Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Vanguard's VTSMX Makes New All Time High At 46.67 Today, 53rd And Final New High Of 2013

What a year for this fund: an average of one new high a week, plus one.

John Crudele Of NY Post Still Not Really Sure What The Fed Has Been Trying To Do

Here in "Bernanke's rate ploy robs from middle class" John Crudele of The New York Post still can't seem to put two and two together even after all this time:

1:

Bernanke, who is leaving his job next month, controls something called the Fed Funds Rate. That’s the rate at which banks can lend each other money for a very short term, generally overnight. That rate is set by the Fed and has been stuck at a puny 0.25 percent for the last few years as the Fed tries to — well, I’m not really sure what the Fed has been trying to do. ...

2:

One of the few rates he has been able to keep low is the yields on things like money-market and savings accounts. The banks love him, since the less they pay out to depositors, the more money they earn.

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What do I gotta do, John, spell it out for ya?

The Fed has been trying to . . . rescue the banks. They don't keep the rate next to zero for this long if they didn't need to.

The middle class has been punished in the process, but lower interest rates presumably have allowed some in the middle class to refinance expensive loans at lower rates while their retirement investments have reflated. That's the rationalization, if not the reality experienced by most.

The banking crisis is over when ZIRP is over.

Middle Class In Flames: All The Fed Has Done Is Help The Banks

Naked Capitalism supports Occupy Wall Street. Heh, heh. Does Jeep know?
Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism, here:

Oh, puhleeze. Robust recovery for who? The Fed not only threw staggering amounts of firepower at salvaging bank balance sheets, while showing no interest in rescuing ordinary Americans. It was also all-in on the Administration’s program to paper over the banks’ chain of title problems and their widespread servicing abuses, and didn’t bother to obtain any meaningful concessions or reforms, the most important of which would have been principal modifications, a remedy favored by investors as well as homeowners. The Fed has been all too happy to accept mission creep rather than speak up forcefully for the need for more fiscal stimulus.

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The analysis is right, but the prescriptions are left: raising the minimum wage, breaking mortgage contracts, and spending money we do not have. Oh, puhleeze. It's Naked Liberalism.

But she's great on Obama's Mussolini-style corporatism, most recently here in response to The New Republic:

I’m actually a bit miffed that Konczal treats the “corporatism” appellation as the sole property of the right wing (in the style sheet of the Vichy Left, calling them “hysterics” is redundant but necessary for the rubes), since I have a prior claim. And what is particularly rich is that Konczal apparently regards the allusion to Mussolini to be unfair . . ..

Obamacare IS corporatist. Here we have the industries that are significant contributors to why the American medical system is so overpriced – the health insurers and Big Pharma – actually playing a major role in writing the legislation. And how is it not a sop to large companies to have the government require that citizens buy your product or else pay large tax penalties? Mr. Market certainly thought so, for the price of health insurer and drug company stocks jumped the day the ACA passed. And remember, the beneficiaries of Obamacare extend beyond the insurers and pharmaceutical makers. Hospitals, who increasingly engage in oligopoly pricing (most surgeries need to be done in hospitals), also come out even stronger because new requirements imposed on doctors’ practices will make it difficult for a retiring MD who practices medicine, as opposed to servicing the rich (e.g., cosmetic surgeons) to sell their business to anyone other than a hospital.

And the label fits in the banking arena like a glove. I’ve ... called both the Bush, but far more often the Obama bank-friendly policies “Mussolini-style corporatism” since 2008, and well before what [Mike] Konczal [of The New Republic] claims is the origin of this description, Tim Carney’s book Obamanomics, published November 30, 2009.

Monday, December 30, 2013

North Dakota Railroad Involved In Accident Causing Oil Inferno Is Wholly Owned By Warren Buffett

The New York Post has the story here, but never mentions Warren Buffett, who has become richer off transportation of oil by rail because his pal Barack Obama did him a favor by stopping the XL pipeline in exchange for his support for higher taxes on the rich:

The derailment happened amid increased concerns about the United States’ increased reliance on rail to carry crude oil. Fears of catastrophic derailments were particularly stoked after last summer’s crash in Canada of a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch. Forty-seven people died in the ensuing fire. The tracks that the train was on Monday pass through the middle of Casselton, and Morris said it was “a blessing it didn’t happen within the city.” The train had more than 100 cars, and about 80 of them were moved away from the site.

According to Wikipedia, here, and BNSF's own website:


The BNSF Railway is the second-largest freight railroad network in North America, second to the Union Pacific Railroad (its primary competitor for Western U.S. freight), and is one of seven North American Class I railroads. It has three transcontinental routes that provide high-speed links between the western and eastern United States. BNSF trains traveled over 169 million miles in 2010, more than any other North American railroad. ... Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, the railroad is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.


Global Warmists Stuck In 5 Meters of Sea Ice In Antarctic SUMMER Now Require RESCUE

Warming scientists stopped by 5m of SUMMER Antarctic ice
Story here, which never mentions it's the Antarctic SUMMER, and you have to read the picture caption to know how DEEP the ice is:

They went in search evidence of the world’s melting ice caps, but instead a team of climate scientists have been forced to abandon their mission … because the Antarctic ice is thicker than usual at this time of year. The scientists have been stuck aboard the stricken MV Akademik Schokalskiy since Christmas Day, with repeated sea rescue attempts being abandoned as icebreaking ships failed to reach them. Now that effort has been ditched, with experts admitting the ice is just too thick. Instead the crew have built an icy helipad, with plans afoot to rescue the 74-strong team by helicopter.



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Yeah, "thicker than usual this time of year": five meters of ice. Do you think these warmists went there expecting to be stopped in their tracks by that?

When tabloid journalists start telling the truth . . . what? Hell will freeze over?


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Aging Lesbian Camille Paglia Still Longs For A Man

Reported here:

Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America's brawny industrial base, leaves many men with "no models of manhood," she says. "Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There's nothing left. There's no room for anything manly right now." The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm "inspires me as a writer," she says, adding: "If we had to go to war," the callers "are the men that would save the nation."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

One Week Later, Michigan Ice Storm Still Had 30,000 Without Power Saturday Morning, But Only 8,100 By Evening

Story here:

In Michigan, roughly 30,000 Consumers customers remained without power, down from 399,000 since a weekend ice storm swept across the state. The worst-hit area continued to be around Lansing, where 3,000 customers were still in the dark Saturday morning.

But this evening, the number is down to 8,100 as reported here:

As of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, 8,100 customers statewide remained without service. The majority of those people are expected to be restored by midnight Sunday, the utility says.

Mortgaged States Their Grandsires' Wreaths Regret


"Yet Reason frowns on war's unequal game,
Where wasted nations raise a single name,
And mortgaged states their grandsires' wreaths regret,
From age to age in everlasting debt;
Wreaths which at last the dear-bought right convey
To rust on medals, or on stones decay."

-- Samuel Johnson, The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749)

Total Credit Market Debt Owed Has Grown Just 16% In 6 Years, The Smallest Increase On Record

Between July 2007 and July 2013, total credit market debt owed (TCMDO) has grown just 16%, by barely $8 trillion. It's the smallest increase on record for any six year period going back to when the data series begins in October 1949.

Going back six years from 2013 is instructive because the summer of 2007 was when the level of TCMDO last doubled (going back to the summer of 1999), and if you go back to the beginning of the data series you find doubling times of as few as 6 years in length to as many as almost 12. In other words, in a period of rapid credit expansion TCMDO might have conceivably doubled in our last six year period, but it hasn't. We sure could have used it. Instead it has for all intents and purposes collapsed, growing just $8 trillion from $50.032 trillion in 2007 to $58.082 trillion now.

From humble beginnings in 1949 when TCMDO stood at $400 billion, the level went on to double in the summers of 1961, 1970, 1977, 1983, 1989, 1999 and 2007. In order to double again (to a level of $102 trillion) by, say, 2019 (12 years from 2007), we're going to have to pick up the pace just a little . . .. Unless, of course, this debt-based economy has reached the limits of what it can do, which may be what the last six years is trying to tell us. 

Here's the data for TCMDO for the six year periods going back to July 1953:

7/1/13 $58.1 trillion (up  16%)
7/1/07 $50.0 trillion (up  74%)
7/1/01 $28.8 trillion (up  58%)
7/1/95 $18.3 trillion (up  45%)
7/1/89 $12.6 trillion (up 102%)
7/1/83 $06.3 trillion (up  97%)
7/1/77 $03.2 trillion (up  87%)
7/1/71 $01.7 trillion (up  57%)
7/1/65 $01.1 trillion (up  49%)
7/1/59 $00.7 trillion (up  42%)
7/1/53 $00.5 trillion.

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard formulated it in 2011, "debt draws forward prosperity". In other words, we've already enjoyed the prosperity years ago which should be present today by literally pulling it back there from here, and now that we're here, well, there's nothing here, except for a measly 0.97% real average GDP report for the six years 2007-2012.

Time to pay.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Top Comment On Story That A&E Caves To Phil Robertson

Story here.

About 61,000 In Michigan Still Without Power Two Days After Christmas

Blotches indicate some of the 61,000 still w/o power today in MI
Story here:

Michigan utilities reported that over 61,000 customers remained without power Friday morning and said it could be Saturday before all electricity is restored.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Over 200,000 Still Without Power In Michigan On Christmas Day After Ice Storm

Consumers Energy outage map showing some of Michigan's 200,000 without electricity on Christmas Day
According to The Detroit News, here:

Roughly 214,000 homes and businesses across lower Michigan were without power late Tuesday. Officials at the area’s major provider, Consumers Energy, described the storm that hit the region over the weekend as the largest Christmas-week storm in its 126-year history. Overall, it’s the largest storm in the last decade, they added.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Flashback March 2010: Sen. Max Baucus Forgot To Mention Income Redistribution Was FROM The Middle Class, Not To It, Or Did He Just Lie Like Obama Did?

Reward for his service to the State: ambassadorship to China
Actually, ObamaCare, which is the handiwork of Sen. Max Baucus, will transfer income from the middle class to the lower class and wipe out the middle.

Here, March 25, 2010:

Sen. Max Baucus (D): "Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America."

Meanwhile, income inequality has never been worse, reaching its all time high under just four years of Obama.

Flashback to HuffPo, here in 2012:

In the 2009-2010 period, a time of modest economic growth, the top 1 percent of U.S. earners captured 93 percent of all the income growth in the country.

Got that? Now compare it to how the mega-rich made out during the Bush upswing years of 2002 to 2007. During that time, the top 1 percent of earners captured just 65 percent of all the income growth.

The numbers don't lie. Income inequality has grown at a rate 4.75 TIMES faster under Obama compared to Bush (perfect equality is 0 on the scale, perfect inequality is 1). Inequality has never been higher than under Obama. The nomenklatura gets richer.

income inequality under 8 years of Bush up 0.4%
income inequality under 4 years of Obama up 1.9%

ObamaCare's Draconian Tax Increase On The Middle Class: Wisconsinite To Pay $7573 Tax On $5000 Of Extra Income

The middle class is the greatest enemy of the proletarian revolution.
Great example of ObamaCare's war on the middle class from The New York Times, here:

A 60-year-old living in Polk County, in northwestern Wisconsin, and earning $50,000 a year, for example, would have to spend more than 19 percent of his income, or $9,801 annually, to buy one of the cheapest plans available there. A person earning $45,000 would qualify for subsidies and would pay about 5 percent of his income, or $2,228, for an inexpensive plan.


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Obama's message to America: Don't EARN too much, people, or it'll happen to you, too.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Economic Stress: Travel By Road In October 2013 Still At 2004-2005 Levels

click to enlarge
click to enlarge
The miles-traveled report for October 2013 is out this afternoon and the facts on the ground continue to show travel stagnation even though miles-traveled in October is up slightly from September.

The level in October was first reached sometime back between 2004 and 2005, which has been the case with pretty much every monthly report from 2009 forward to the present time.

It's as if the country shed a bunch of drivers and never got them back.

Gee, who could that be? And why haven't they been replaced, hm?

Travel fell off sharply in the late depression and never recovered. The best you can call it is an L-shaped recovery, as shown by the chart.

This has happened despite the fact that vehicle sales have recovered to the 16 million annual level. That must simply be a phenomenon of vehicle replacement where old vehicles are retired because the average age of vehicles on the road has continued to increase even in the last year as sales soared. In the summer of 2012 the average age of a vehicle had climbed to another new record of 11.0 years, but by the summer of 2013 the average age had crept up another 0.4 years to 11.4 years. Industry experts believe that figure will only increase out to 2018.

Gunney Highway's Assessment Of ObamaCare

What's your assessment of this ObamaCare, Gunney?
It's a clusterfuck, sir. Americans shouldn't be sitting on their asses filling out forms on a website that doesn't work.


Obama Alters His Own Law Of The Land Yet Again, John Fund Says For At Least The 14th Time


Yesterday the Obama administration suddenly moved to allow hundreds of thousands of people who’ve lost their insurance due to Obamacare to sign up for bare-bone “catastrophic” plans. It’s at least the 14th unilateral change to Obamacare that’s been made without consulting Congress.

Whether It's ObamaCare Or The Gay Mafia, Camille Paglia Detects Stalinism And Fascism

Lesbian Camille Paglia, quoted here:

“To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades. ... This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have [sic] been lost by my own party. ... I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility. ... This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points. There is a dialogue going on human civilization, for heaven sakes. It’s not just this monologue coming from fanatics who have displaced the religious beliefs of their parents into a political movement. ... And that is what happened to feminism, and that is what happened to gay activism, a fanaticism.”


Here's Paglia in October on ObamaCare:


"But the ObamaCare is, to me, a Stalinist intrusion--okay?--into American culture."

Q3 2013 GDP Third Estimate At 4.1%, But Inventories Constitute 41% Of That





The BEA reports here:

Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in the third quarter of 2013 (that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter), according to the "third" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.5 percent. The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the "second" estimate issued on December 5, 2103.  In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 3.6 percent (see "Revisions" on page 3).  With this third estimate for the third quarter, increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and in nonresidential fixed investment were larger than previously estimated. ...  The change in real private inventories added 1.67 percentage points to the third-quarter change in real GDP, after adding 0.41 percentage point to the second-quarter change. Private businesses increased inventories $115.7 billion in the third quarter, following increases of $56.6 billion in the second quarter and $42.2 billion in the first.

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That's a huge inventory number compared to the recent past.

Personal consumption expenditures, which in the second estimate came in at a paltry 1.4%, suddenly are revised up 0.6 to 2.0% in the third estimate, also contributing significantly to the up revision of GDP. In the second estimate it looked like the consumer was pulling back by over 20% from the second quarter. In the third estimate it now appears the consumer ramped it up by over 10% in Q3 compared to Q2, quite the reversal.

Someone wanted to go home early: Both reports in html and pdf say "December 5, 2103".

Hey. They're just numbers. Time for a beer. 

The Consumer Has Been Wiped Out By Food And Energy Inflation Since 2007

energy inflation up 7.75%
food inflation up 15%
average hourly earnings up 14.1%















Average hourly earnings for all employees are up 14.1% from November 2007 to November 2013, but energy inflation is up 7.75% and food inflation is up 15% over the same period.

You can't eat a cheaper iPhone.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Economic Stress Continues: Average US Car 11.4 Years Old In August, Another Record

1997 Olds LSS
The story was reported here:

The average age of vehicles on America's roads has reached an all-time high of 11.4 years, according to the market research firm Polk. And that average age is sure to keep climbing, the firm said. ...  In 2002, the average vehicle was 9.6 years old. In 1995, it was 8.4 years.

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While cars are getting better and lasting longer, this may also be a picture of economic stagnation, and perhaps decline.

Deleveraging: Consumers Reduced Debt By Less Than 8% Between January 2008 and July 2012

And household debt is on the rise again since summer 2012, up now to just under $13.1 trillion.

Squawkers everywhere (here and here) are making a big deal of this, but I'm still not convinced. We're only talking $169 billion of borrowing in the last year, July on July.

16 million vehicle sales per year at $15,000 each is $240 billion. Presumably there are some good credit risks buying some of those new vehicles, as there always are. But with the average US car age at 11 years old in summer 2012 increasing to 11.4 years old in summer 2013, record highs, and projections expecting average age to increase still more years down the road, I'd say the very slight increase in indebtedness may have more to do with necessity playing out than with a fundamental return to healthy debt-fueled growth.

As I pointed out from a source in the earlier post on this subject, many more of the new car loans are subprime, higher loan to value to be able to afford the down payment, and longer term than they used to be. The quality of the increased indebtedness is nothing to be happy about, and tells a tale of continued economic stress, not of economic recovery.

Libertarians At Forbes Completely Misrepresent The Mortgage Interest Deduction


The mortgage interest deduction (MID) is the largest personal tax deduction on the books and is widely considered one of the most sacrosanct tax benefits in the country because it is seen as making homeownership more affordable for middle-class Americans. Our new Reason Foundation research suggests, though, that the average benefits from the MID are not enough to be the difference between renting and home owning for a household.




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If there's a sacrosanct tax benefit in this country, which by the way benefits mostly upper income people who also pay most of the taxes, it's reduced rates of taxation on dividends and long term capital gains, which the Joint Committee on Taxation says costs the federal government $596 billion in lost revenue between 2012 and 2016. The mortgage interest deduction, by contrast, will cost the feds $364 billion. Leave it to Forbes not to mention that.

The mortgage interest deduction may or may not be "the largest personal" deduction, but in the big picture of revenue forfeited by the feds due to tax preferences, which is categorized as "tax loss expenditure", the mortgage interest deduction represents just 6.9% of the revenue lost out of the largest 21 line items in the JCT's report representing $5.25 trillion in tax loss expenditures for the period mentioned (here).

Preferential treatment of income from stocks isn't the biggest preference either (11.4%), but it is much bigger than the preference given to mortgage interest. But businesses do get the biggest preference. When employers provide healthcare contributions, health insurance and long term care insurance, they get to deduct all of that. Cost to the feds? A whopping $706.6 billion (13.5%). And that figure will only grow under ObamaCare.

And how about retirement plan contributions? Cost of excluding both defined benefit and defined contribution plans comes to $505.3 billion over the period (9.6%).

Compared to these, the mortgage interest deduction comes in a distant fourth (in fifth is the earned income tax credit at $319.7 billion).

The much-maligned charitable deduction, meanwhile, which was the original basis for the standard deduction in the tax code, at $172.4 billion represents just 3.3% of the lost $5.25 trillion in revenue from 2012 to 2016. It comes in fourteenth.

There's lots of things wrong with the world, but changing the home mortgage interest deduction isn't going to fix them. For libertarians to focus on it as they do should tell you there's more going on here than meets the eye: an ideological bias against home ownership because it limits "freedom". Millions beg to differ.

Largest Sums Of Federal Revenue Forfeited Because Of The Tax Code, Joint Committee On Taxation, 2012-2016

$706.6 billion: exclusion of employer contributions for healthcare, health insurance premiums and long term care insurance premiums.

$596.0 billion: reduced rates of taxation on dividends and long term capital gains.

$505.3 billion: net exclusion of pension contributions and earnings to defined benefit/contribution plans.

$364.0 billion: mortgage interest deduction.

$319.7 billion: earned income tax credit.

$305.0 billion: exclusion of Medicare Parts A&B benefits.

$289.4 billion: credit for children under 17.

$259.2 billion: deduction of nonbusiness state and local government income taxes, sales taxes and personal property taxes.

$239.7 billion: deferral of active income of controlled foreign corporations.

$236.1 billion: exclusion of capital gains at death.

$184.3 billion: subsidies for participation in healthcare exchanges.

$182.8 billion: exclusion of interest on public purpose state and local government bonds.

$175.8 billion: exclusion of benefits provided under cafeteria plans.

$172.4 billion: deduction for charitable contributions.

$172.1 billion: exclusion of untaxed Social Security and railroad retirement benefits.

$153.8 billion: exclusion of investment income on life insurance and annuity contracts.

$143.0 billion: property tax deduction.

$124.1 billion: exclusion of capital gains on the sale of a home.

$119.1 billion: credits for tuition for post-secondary education.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Market Goes Irrational Whether The Fed Pumps, Stands Pat Or Tapers

Today the Fed announced a reduction of MBS and Treasury purchases of $10 billion, from $85 billion to $75 billion a month.

Usually when the Fed has announced things are still weak and that purchases will continue as planned, the market has rallied strongly. Same with announcements of new asset purchases.

Today the Fed announced the opposite, intending to scale back purchases, and the market rallied huge.

If you are looking for stupid pills at Walgreens, they're all out. Anyway that's what my broker said.

Vanguard Precious Metals And Mining Down Over 70% In Last 6 Years

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Ouch, and down 75% from the 2008 high.













John Hussman Is Right: High Valuations Since The Late 1990s Have Coincided With Smaller S&P500 Returns

Here's Hussman:

Yes, several reliable valuation measures have hovered at much higher levels since the late-1990’s than were generally seen historically. But that in itself is not evidence that these historically reliable valuation measures are “broken.” It matters that those high valuations have been associated with a period of more than 13 years now where the S&P 500 has scarcely achieved a 3% annual total return.

Here's Ironman's chart of S&P500 returns for the 15 years ended October 2013 showing a real, that is inflation-adjusted, total annual return with dividends fully reinvested of . . . 2.88%:

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Here's Morningstar's chart showing how much better you'd have done in intermediate term bonds like Vanguard's VBIIX, 5.88% nominal per year over the last 15 years (roughly 3.4% real), and that's including this year's bond slaughter:

click to enlarge














Here's the Shiller p/e as of this morning, clearly and excessively above the mean level of 16.50 for most of the time from the 1990s:

click to enlarge















Hussman says investors should expect poor returns from stocks going forward:

[S]tocks are currently at levels that we estimate will provide roughly zero nominal total returns over the next 7-10 years, with historically adequate long-term returns thereafter.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Greedy Democrats Have Used Medicaid Since 1993 To Take Your Assets, Now It Ramps Up Under ObamaCare

Signing up for Medicaid may be signing away everything you own.

From the story here:

The Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1993 [under Bill and Hillary Clinton and a Democrat Congress] requires states to pursue Medicaid asset recovery from persons who receive benefits at age 55 or older. At first, this applied mainly to nursing home benefits, but at state option, it could now include any items or services provided under Medicaid. ... A potential for greatly expanded use of estate recovery was created in Obamacare, as pointed out in an anonymously authored, well-documented article distributed by economist Paul Craig Roberts. Obamacare increases the number of people eligible for Medicaid by dropping the asset test for enrollment (Page 162 of Obamacare). ... Medicaid, supposed to be a program to help the poor, has become a cash cow for multibillion-dollar, managed-care companies, who milk federal and state taxpayers. Expanding Medicaid to persons with modest assets will enable estate recovery to become a cash cow for states to milk the poor and the middle class.

Is The S&P500 Still 13% Below Its Previous Peak?

Adjusted for inflation, the current level of the S&P500 has still not bested the 1999-2000 level, meaning there are bubbles, and then there are bubbles.

That said, the last "bubble" in 2007 has been surpassed already.

American Killer Obama Shakes Hands With Cuban Killer Castro

The outrage is that Obama's still our president, not that he shook hands with a fellow murderer.

Story here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Former MT Governor Democrat Brian Schweitzer Calls Obama A Corporatist

The story, here, is attracting quite a discussion in the comments section about how a lefty like Obama could possibly also be a fascist, since Schweitzer characterizes Obama's entire presidency as a move to the right.

The true believers are furious with Obama.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Get Over It: Santa's Been White Since 1881

Actually, he was white before 1881, but this image by Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly in 1881 became dominant in America from that time.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bank Failure Friday: The 24th Bank To Fail In 2013 Is In Texas

Texas Community Bank, National Association, The Woodlands, Texas, failed today, costing the FDIC $10.8 million.

6,891 banks remain in the insured system of FDIC banks and savings institutions.

Over Two Times As Many Getting Stuck With Medicaid Vs. Insurance Under ObamaCare

"Coverage" does not equal care.
The Detroit News reports here:

Nationwide, 1.9 million people completed online applications in October and November, but just 365,000 selected an insurance plan. Those planning to buy on the health insurance marketplace — healthcare.gov — must enroll by Dec. 23 to have a policy in effect by Jan. 1. ... An additional 803,077 Americans were found eligible for Medicaid or the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. That number includes 7,363 residents of Michigan, one of 25 states and the District of Columbia that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wow, Jobless Claims Surge +146,241 To A Level Worse Than This Week Last Year: Sudden ObamaCare Effect?










The report is here.

This number is stunning. We haven't seen a level like this in 2013 except for once in July (410k) and three times way back in January to start the year.

Are companies letting people go in advance of ObamaCare kicking-in full-force about a year from now, to comply with the one-year look-back period?

Major market indices declined for a third straight day on the news, the DOW by 2/3rds of a percent.

Military Retirees Under 62 Screwed Under House-Passed Ryan/Murray Budget Deal

As reported here:

The Washington Free Beacon reported that under the budget agreement crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), military retirees younger than 62 will receive 1 percentage point less in their annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). ...

A loss of one percentage point in their COLA translates into thousands of dollars in lost retirement income. ...

If an E-7 retires at 40, they would lose $83,000. Commissioned officers could lose much more. Lieutenant colonels and commanders (an O-5 rank) who retire at 40 would lose $124,000.

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Senate Republicans who oppose the cuts to military retirements are saying so loudly but will most probably be defeated in the Senate next week when the budget deal comes up for a vote in the Democrat controlled chamber.


Roll Call Magazine's 218 Blog Embraces The Oligarchy

"218: Because it's the only number that really matters in the US House."

Yeah, and that's the problem.

Current population: 316.8 million.

Implied representation on the constitutional formula rejected by the anti-Federalists: 10,560 US Representatives in the US House.

Preferred level: 21,120 in the US House. Let 'em camp in tents on FedEx Field.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rush Limbaugh's comments on the pope have been nothing if not lazy, so what's new?

Rush Limbaugh's comments on the pope have been nothing if not lazy, which most of his comments are in this late period of his career, and which is why one week after he made them on the pope we are still hearing about them in the media and on his own radio show. If Rush is being talked about, it's there on the show that you're sure to hear about it, because relevance was never so hard to keep up as it is in these days.

Here's Rush this very day in fact, claiming Reuters translated "unfettered capitalism" from the pope's remarks when Reuters hadn't done any such thing, one of the many little half-truths which are the stock in trade of The Rush Limbaugh Program; that phrase "unfettered capitalism" was never in quotation marks in the original Reuters story:

Now, what I had was a Reuters story that was reporting via the translation of the Holy Father's remarks, and in that translation were "unfettered capitalism," a huge, huge hit on what the pope was said to have called "trickle-down," and a plea for leaders of the world to do something about "income inequality" and about poverty and so forth, as though no one's been doing that.  I remember when I saw it, I was really shocked.  I could not believe...

Here's the original Reuters story speaking of unfettered capitalism but not in quotation marks:

Pope Francis called for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny," urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

The fact is Reuters skewed this story in the direction of "unfettered capitalism" while the pope never used the words "unfettered" or "capitalism", choosing instead "the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation" as the "new tyranny".

Here's as close as the pope comes to "unfettered capitalism" (this is easy to find online, but Rush cannot seem to), who only spoke of "unbridled consumerism" and never once mentioned unfettered capitalism, which comes as a surprise to Rush when callers protest as one did just today:

60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

The pope's message, after all is said and done, is really quite simple, as all ideologies are, the difference being that his is a heavenly one, not a terrestrial. He's obviously uncomfortable with American Catholics of the conservative persuasion who have been allying themselves with what is commonly called libertarian ideology, the devotees of which Russell Kirk famously named the "chirping sectarians" of the conservative movement, Rep. Paul Ryan being a prominent contemporary example thereof. For Kirk, it was their ideological habit of mind which marked them out as outsiders of the movement because they could not abide the persistent lack of conformity to principle which is endemic to fallen, human nature in need of salvation, and substituted for it a bastardized, immanentized eschaton of infinite freedom:

208. If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.

In the final analysis, conservatism represents an acquiescence to the sad predicament of human existence against which libertarianism never stops revolting, and Christianity represents a temporal and by definition incomplete response of God to life in that world. But for libertarianism, incomplete just isn't good enough.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Have Households Started To Borrow? Probably for cars.

PragCap thinks so here, but it's only been up $169 billion year over year. The monthly rate of vehicle sales annualized is up 1.6 million units over the same period. Could be that. Subprime, loan to value in excess of 100% and longer terms are all up in the space, according to Reuters here just in recent days.

The Passive Long-Term Investor's Dilemma: Both Equities and Treasurys Are Unattractively Priced

From John Hussman, here:

So passive buy-and-hold investors – who lock in a price and don’t alter their investment positions for a long period of time – should recognize that Treasury bonds are likely to outperform stocks over the coming decade, with substantially less risk. In my view, neither asset class is attractively priced, but in a world of zero returns on Treasury bills, our risk budget for passive investors would lean more toward bonds than equities here nonetheless.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Michigan Gov. Snyder Brags He's The Most Pro-Immigration Governor In The Country

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, someone who will never be president, here:

“I’m probably the most pro-immigration governor in the country and I’m proud of that,” said Snyder, who included farm workers in his call for opening the state’s borders to immigrants who can create jobs for the state’s economy.

Best comment on the story:

"I never see advertisements for farm labor."