Monday, December 12, 2011

So Much for Europe Being Fixed; US Stocks Dashed over Persistent Fear of Euro Collapse

Let's face it. There's no easy way for europe to fix the mess they've created without a lot of pain, including bank failures, a massive, long-term deflationary depression, government overthrows and the near disintegration of the Euro-zone, those countries which exclusively use the Euro as currency.

After last week's up-and-down Thursday and Friday sessions, marked by trepidation over the ECB's interest rate cut and a demure stance on monetary policy by new ECB head, Mario Draghi, and Friday's euphoric rally on the umpteenth outline of a Euro solution, Monday turned just plain ugly for European bourses and US indices.

Anybody who understands the enormity of debt that's been built up by Europe and the US - not only in the government, but by the banks, financial institutions and households as well - sees no end to the crisis in Europe, and the distinct probability that their problems - being partly those of our own banks and our Federal Reserve - will become ours. The massive overhang of public debt, much of it owing to national pension funds like Social Security, has always been an albatross around the necks of European leaders and now it is quickly becoming one for whoever leads the US (Take your pick from Obama, the banks or the congress. None of them are doing a good job.).

And while Social Security is set to run in the red for another year (this being the first), what are congress and the president fighting over? Whether to cut the Social Security contribution paid by employees and/or add a tax on the wealthy. The fact that the latest boondoggle is being branded as "payroll tax" - a wholly incorrect moniker - tells exactly how deep and severe the US fiscal condition has become.

If the government big-wigs actually came clean on the issue and said they want to cut Social Security contributions so people can afford to buy food, gas and maybe the occasional iPad or plasma TV, the cat would be out of the bag, permanently.

As it stands today, Social Security is DOA. Current beneficiaries can expect payments though the next five years, maybe, but, eventually, there's not enough money going into the system to support the huge numbers of upcoming recipients from the Baby Boom generation, most of whom have less than $40,000 saved for retirement (Hint: that's not enough), and cutting contributions is going in exactly the wrong direction.

On Capitol Hill, most senior congress-people know that Social Security will have to be substantially changed in order to survive and the changes will have to be dramatic measures, like raising the retirement age to 70 or 72, means testing, so that people who don't need it won't get it, and raising the limit of contributions from the current first $106,800 of income to something more realistic, like the first $200,000 of income.

Making high-earners pay more would add more money to the SS coffers at the same time the government is cutting the percentage take from employees. Still, most of the measures even considered by congress and the White House are nothing more than stop-gap measures designed to satiate the masses until the next big election, in November, 2012.

In the meantime, the economy continues to struggle along, unless one is inclined to take their lead from the ruthless bankers on Wall Street and cheat like crazy, paying people off the books, under-reporting income and generally skirting the IRS at every turn. Hey, the big corporations do it, so why not everyone else.

At the bottom of all the financial malaise is the collapse of government, as we've witnessed in the Middle east and North Africa, is now spreading to Europe and Russia, and thanks to people actually taking change of their own lives and their own finances, is quickly gaining ground here in the USA.

There is one way to stem the crisis in the United States. Elect Ron Paul president. The mainstream media is currently dancing around Dr. Paul, whose positions have been consistent and poisonous to the status quo, but there's no doubt mainstream America is listening to the 76-year-old Texan, as he continue to gain ground in Iowa and elsewhere.

Compared to the current leaders, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, a Ron Paul - Michelle Bachmann ticket is sure beginning to look like a winner.

When Americans ask themselves, "which of the Republican candidates are most like us?" the answer becomes obvious.

BTW: Volume was so low today that the markets could have closed at noon and hardly anyone would have noticed. Even fewer would have cared. That's what happens when trust flees markets. People, and money, follow out the door.

The Euro hit a two-month low against the US Dollar, below 1.32. The end of the Euro is coming, and sooner than anyone dares think.

Dow 12,021.39, -162.87 (1.34%)
NASDAQ 2,612.26, -34.59 (1.31%)
S&P 500 1,236.47, -18.72 (1.49%)
NYSE Composite 7,363.49, -139.39 (1.86%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,523,045,375
NYSE Volume 3,421,469,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1272-4386
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 79-120 (flipped to red)
WTI crude oil: 97.77 -1.64 (head back to 80-85 range)
Gold: 1,668.20 -48.60 (deflation signal)
Silver: 31.00, -1.25

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