Tuesday, January 27, 2015

And Now Comes the Crash

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

Writing this morning as Dow futures are down around 275-300 points, market participants are reacting negatively to any number of factors, not the least of which was the truly ugly print of December durable goods orders, which came in at -3.4% against expectations of +0.3%.

Also revised lower were November's durable figures, from an already disappointing -0.7% to a dismal -2.1%.

The stock market crash, yes, the one that's been delayed since 2009 thanks to QE from the Fed, then Japan, and now, supposedly, from the European Union (EU), is upon us. The bull market that began when mark-t-market became mark-to-fantasy in March of 2009 has overstayed its welcome, and those who have not already jumped ship on tech stocks, income stocks, growth stocks (there's a real laugher for you; most companies' earnings for 2014 were lower than 2013 and 2015 will be lower still), or blue chip stocks, are about to get creamed, rapidly, starting today, but, when the Dow Industrials close below 17,068.87 (the close on December 16, 2014), for certain.

One only has to look at a recent chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and have a cursory understanding of Dow Theory to realize that the primary trend is about to change. Now, if it doesn't - if the Dow doesn't close below 17,068.87 and subsequently makes new highs, or, if it does close below that level and then makes new highs - then the market is being purposefully and blatantly manipulated. Besides the fact that most, if not all, markets have been manipulated since the crash of 2008, and probably well before that, a massive nosedive in stocks should come as little surprise to anybody, save those who hold out hope against hope that the Federal Reserve and the federal government, in all their wisdom, will save markets no matter what, which, in fact, is the core of manipulation itself.

Bull markets do not last forever. Lying and misguiding the public does not work forever. The public, that nebulous, unintelligible mass of humanity that follows blindly like sheep led to shearing or slaughter, will understand little of this, if any of it, but, we've collectively been led down a garden path to economic slavery and destruction by lying lawyers, bankers, CEOs, media and politicians, whose only concerns are their own, and against sound public policy.

Globally, economies are in a shambles. A raging currency war is merely pretext for a coming deep depression. While the United States may be the "cleanest shirt in a dirty laundry basket" it is no doubt still dirty, and a cleansing is overdue.

For too long, the American public has listened to the media, bankers and politicians who promised what they could not deliver: economic prosperity for everybody. It's a pipe dream, a facade, a fallacy, a Fugazy. The reckoning is upon us, just in time for the Super Bowl.

Just wait for the number: 17,068.87. When the Dow closes below that, it's game over, and no jawboning by Federal Reserve governors, or politicians, or media mouthpieces, can change that. A long, painful bear market will take the Dow and other averages to places nobody can imagine. At first, it will be called a correction (unless it absolutely crashes - like down 1000 points - today), but, make no doubt, it will be a bear market, followed by a recession, and then a depression (which, many will claim we are already in, since 2008).

Trust your own judgement, but, if you have not prepared for the worst of times, you are certain to live through them. Your portfolio allocations should look something like this: 20% Precious Metals; 60% cash; 20% survival/tradable/salable goods.

Best wishes to all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SOTU 2015 Recap: Drink, Drink, Chug, Vomit; Oscar Wilde For The Win

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

Just to be fair, we didn't exactly keep pace with the president in our SOTU drinking game.

Having chosen the top four words from our Top Ten list - taxes, jobs, Middle Class, and, economy - President Obama brought down the house on the jobs number, using that specific word (either in the singular or plural form) 24 times before we stopped counting. Smartly, he only said "tax" or "taxes" five times, used the term, "Middle Class" four times, "economy" 13 times and never once used the word "rich."

Where the president excelled, however, actually overwhelming even our rosiest expectations, was in the bonus chugs segment, in which he mentioned ten countries specifically, not including the United States (or America), which technically didn't count, and was, obviously, one of the more frequently used words in his hour-long speech to the nation.

Obama got off early with mentions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and, though it took a while for him to come up with the third county, Japan, he took charge with a quick rattling off of Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, Israel and China in short order.

What took the whole drinking effort to new levels was the president's expert rendering of the terrorist naming bonus, in which we instructed that the mention of three terrorist groups would constitute a chug command. Though Obama specifically named only one group by name, he nailed the ISIS-ISIL bonus at 9:45 pm, 35 minutes into the speech, calling his favorite Mideast thugs by their pet name, ISIL, invoking the rule of our game to promptly end in a spellbinding, chug-til-you-puke crescendo.

So intent was the president on getting the nation massively inebriated that he intoned "ISIL" again just one minute later. Strangely enough, his wording was actually foreshadowed by Mrs. Alan Greenspan (aka, Andrea Mitchell), who mentioned ISIL just minutes before the president made his way to the podium. We applaud the otherwise droll Mrs. Greenspan for her literary bravado.

Aside from yet another successful SOTU drinking panacea - Obama's sixth - the president's rhetoric was little more than a rehash of his last two SOTU addresses, replete with promises that will be broken and high-minded principles to which congress and the administration will find difficult, if not impossible, to personalize.

Generally, while we agree in principle with a good deal of Obama's vision of America (though free community college and health care coverage for everyone are a bit too far out on the socialist agenda for our tastes), we have grown tired of waiting for either the president or the congress to come through with specific actions. Empty rhetoric becomes tiresome in short time. Repetition of such tends to be unbearable.

On the humorous, if not tragic, side, the president made the bold claim that inflation was at its lowest level in 50 years, at the precise time that the Federal Reserve is in a death match to avert outright deflation. While the president wishes to point out that low inflation is a grand intention - and it is - the pedals of public policy are being pimped and pumped by the pervicacious pedants at the Fed in exactly the opposite direction, with, thankfully, limited success.

Perhaps, in a perverse and fateful way, the wisdom and wit of Oscar Wilde is prescient:

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

By all appearances, neither the Fed, the president, nor the American public's aspirations will be satiated.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

State of the Union Drinking Game 2015: Multiple Choice, Top Ten Version, with Bonus Chug Words

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

By now, most of you know the rules about State of the Union Drinking Games, but, to briefly recap, it goes something like this:

We stole this image, but,
we liked it, so we kept it.
1. Prepare your favorite adult beverage, be it beer, wine, or a mixed concoction. Keep refills close at hand.

2. Settle into a comfortable chair or on your couch and get ready for the annual ritual monologue from whomever it is that has been selected (recall that elections are so 20th century, done away with the Supreme Court's decision in Gore v. Bush, circa 2000; now it's all managed by your black box friends at Diebold et. al.) to give the State of the Union speech, always this is the president, so we get Mr. Obama for the sixth or seventh time this year. Honestly, we've lost count because we've been so drunk most of the time.

3. Choose a word (or words) you think the speaker will utter a number of times, and prepare to take a swig or (dangerous, unless you're swilling peach brandy or some other fru-fru-umbrella-type drink) do a shot when the word (or words) is uttered. Those of you pounding 151 Rum or Rumplemintz, you are our heroes.

4. Turn on TV. Prepare to be bored, then angry, then drunk, and probably angrier.

For this year, we decided to list the top ten words we think will be the most popular ones to come off the teleprompter and then the lips of the President, and, no, we did not get an advance copy of the speech, though there have been leaks about the direction the president will be taking the speech.

Now, we are disappointed that the speech will be televised live on the major networks beginning at 9:00 pm ET, which is a little late for those of us in the working class or past middle age (seniors). As for the latter group, seniors, you should plan on eating a little later this evening, say, waiting until maybe 6:30 instead of the usual early-bird 4:25 pm.

If you're a working guy or gal who has to be up at 5:00 am or earlier, well, welcome to 21st century slavery. There are alternatives, you know, but, most of you are suffering from a severe case of normalcy bias, so we'll just let you alone, for now. In any case, many of you may want to warm up with a few cold ones or mixed ones or straight ones or neat ones beforehand. Whatever blows your hair back is fine by us. Warm-up drinks are advised, but just don't overdo it. President Obama is a verified crowd-pleaser when it comes to drinking games.

OK, here's the recommended Top Ten list, from what we* here at Money Daily think the president will toss out of his mouth, in descending order, from the most frequent to the least. We've also included some bonus chugs for those of you who wish to get completely inebriated or fall into a deep trance or become comatized before bedtime.

  • 1. Taxes
  • 2. Jobs
  • 3. Middle Class (since it's two words and doesn't really exist anymore, we suggest taking two drinks whenever this term is used)
  • 4. Economy
  • 5. Russia
  • 6. Terror or terrorism
  • 7. Child or children
  • 8. Congress
  • 9. Education (always popular, but, in reality, a massive charade)
  • 10. Stocks or Stock Market

It's suggested that if you really want to get your swerve on, you use all these words, but, for the majority of us, picking three or four should be sufficient.

For bonus chugging we're throwing in a couple of caveat words. If the president mentions the "rich," in a negative connotation, as in, "the rich need to be taxed heavily because they've glommed up more than half of everything in the world..." then it's a bonus chug. Also, if the president names three  or more specific countries during his speech, that's a bonus chug on the third country mentioned and another bonus chug for each subsequent country mentioned (no cheating rule: if he says the same country over and over, as in, "Iran must not get nukes, Iran must not sell oil, Iran must not mess up our planned obsolescence in Syria, Iran must be bombed into submission, like Ukraine..." that (Iran) only counts as one country, not three or four, but, since he mentioned two other countries there, chug.).

So, if the president says, in one part of his speech, "I love Canada," then follows up later with "Syria's president, Assad, must be droned," and then goes on to say, "Russia, is, has been and always will be, our mortal enemy," that's three and you chug. If he goes onto say something like, "members of the European Union, France, Germany, Spain, etc.," well, we can only suspect that Mr. Obama has read this blog and is just trying to get everybody in America hammered before he gets to the really good lying about how "exceptional" America is and how he's going to work with congress and all that.

And, if he mentions any terrorist groups by name, like Hezbolla, or Boko Haram, and especially ISIS, which will no doubt get mentioned, one chug per group, per mention.

And, for the killer bonus, if the president calls ISIS by their favorite name, ISIL, it's game over, drink until you puke.

OK, make your choices carefully, and remember, drink, but don't drive, or, for that matter, use power tools, for God's sake.

And don't even think of posting your results in our comment section. We literally don't care.

*Actually, it's just me, Fearless Rick, but "we" sounds so much more officious and monumental and, well, bigger.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Phantom GDP, Deflationary QE and Releasing the Consumer Kraken

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

OK, this is a little mind exercise for the new year.

Capital consists of money, labor, and resources (land, materials, machinery, buildings, infrastructure).

The Fed has control of just one of these three essential tenets of economy: money.

They make it out of nothing (to be more succinct, they create money from government debt - the Mandrake Mechanism, well-explained by G. Edward Griffin, in his expose of the Federal Reserve, The Creature from Jekyll Island - there are PDFs of this book available, or, buy it from Amazon or eBay, just go look.)

GDP growth is a canard, which the Fed and government can - and do - conspire to adjust according to their whims, wants, needs.

Unless somebody's building something that wasn't there beforehand, or there are more people building things (population growth, which is, after all, potential capital) or being more productive (technology), the only way to increase GDP is through money creation, i.e., inflation, which, in its most strict definition is an increase in the money supply, and, that is the essence of QE.

So, why hasn't there been inflation? In addition to the various reasons offered in this article, allow these meager observations:
  • Money is moved off-shore
  • Money is wasted
  • Money goes into non-productive assets (stocks, especially stock buybacks, the most unproductive of all, actually deflationary)
  • but, fewer people are working (unemployment)
  • the amount of land in the US (and the world) is fixed
  • a building burns, becomes dilapidated (impaired asset) or is vacant (lots of homes like that in the US thanks to the banks), becomes less-valued, non-productive, heading towards zero value, and that is deflation on a grand scale.
So, the people who want programs to improve the infrastructure in the US (roads, bridges, power grid, etc.) are correct in assuming that such programs would improve the economy. More jobs, more income, more velocity of money, and, most importantly, better, more efficient, more productive infrastructure, which leads to better manufacturing, agriculture, i.e., a virtuous cycle.

What we have today is a nearly closed-loop of money creation and destruction. Government issues bonds, Fed (or one of their many conduits, or other central banks) buys them with newly-created-out-of-thin-air money. That money goes to banks, which buy stocks or hoard as reserves, adding nothing to the general economy. GDP stagnates. Any little that may trickle out as loans to businesses or mortgages, is actually productive, but the banks, being the arbiters of money and controllers of credit, don't trust the public, and, additionally, have a hard time making a profit at 2, 3, or 4%. The problem for the Fed is the massive oversupply in everything from existing homes to corn to cheap junk from China, to now, oil and gas.

You want inflation, raise interest rates, because the pent-up demand will be filled by banks which can make money at 5, 6, or 7%.

My conclusion is that either the Fed doesn't understand this process (unlikely), or they actually want stagnation and/or disinflation or deflation (very likely). Remember, the dollar was getting weak up until 2009 and beyond, but look what's happened, the dollar is strengthening, and people want more of those dollars (the 10-year yield at 2.15% is magnitudes better than the German bund or the Bank of Japan's 10-year yield.). The Fed, as usual, has been lying through their teeth about everything from the virtues of quantitative easing (QE, i.e., free money) to the strength of the global economy (fact: it's weak.). There's a long history of the Fed saying one thing and knowing that the complete opposite - or nearly so - is actually true. That's how they get everyone to go along with their schemes of booms, busts, inflations, depressions, recessions... they and their crony, member banks, front-running everything.

The past few years have been good years for investing (ask anyone with a 401k or stocks), but it's not going to last. Maybe a few more years, because, once the banks start lending again in earnest, the inflation spigot will be wide open and the Fed knows this.

The Fed knows exactly what it is doing, and they're doing it slowly, as to avoid shocks. Anybody who hasn't been able to prosper (as in paying down debt, cutting expenditures, improving existing infrastructure - remodel your house, add solar panels, buy a better vehicle, increase acreage of productive land, learn new skills or improve existing ones) has missed the boat.

Point in fact: In 2005,6,7,8, I could not get a credit card with less than 22% interest. In 2009, I got a 4% home equity line of credit for roughly 50% of the value of my property (owned free and clear) from a local credit union (thank God for them). That one valued asset (my home) has, along with the meager line of credit, in five years time, allowed me to pay off all my existing credit card debt, buy inventory for my business, buy other assets (mostly silver) then get deals from various banks (yes, the very ones which caused the near-catastrophe of 2008), which now has me in this most unusual predicament: I have 0% credit - some of it guaranteed through June, 2016 - in an amount which far exceeds my original 4% home equity line, much of which I have already paid back.

My trick, if I can pull it off, will be to use the 0% credit as ready cash as part of a down payment on a better property for my home and business. With interest rates so low, it's almost foolish NOT to make this move.

The only risk, as far as I can tell, is if my income nosedives (not likely) and I'm unable to service my debt. In that case, I pay the mortgage (and taxes, the government always get theirs, don't they?) first, and let the banks figure out what to do with the defaulted CC debt. Long story short, I could then file for bankruptcy protection, and, even though the CC debt would not be fully discharged, I could get restructured and/or some forebearance/forgiveness and, keep my home, which, in the long run, is all that matters, the REAL, productive, improvable capital.

Seriously, I've been stacking silver, hoarding cash and business inventory for four years, and it's about time to unleash the Kraken!

Banksters beware! You've enabled your own worst nightmare. More adventures in high finance are sure to follow.

Today's advice: Pay attention and stay liquid. Interest rates keep going lower, meaning there's still another two years of embraceable low interest rates to be had.