Friday, May 15, 2015
Blues legend BB King has died at the age of 89. Only regret is that I never saw him preform live. It was one of those 'round to its' you keep putting off until it's too late. He kind of fell out of favor until the late 60s when big concerts came back and he started playing as an opening act for rock bands. Music I believe evolved into something a 12 year old could produce with computerized melodies and backgrounds whipped up with a press of a finger. BB however stayed true to his music and gave blues the feeling it rightly deserved, right from the gut and soul. The thrill is definitely gone.
Looks like the real data came out about production and consumer spending. Just knew they couldn't hide reality for long. You still won't find hoards at the retail shops buying crap they can't afford and didn't need in the first place. Most purchases now are for necessities like food, cheap replacement clothing (you can only darn socks so many times before they become thread bare) and of course repair items like glue and tape. And all this time the economic wizards thought the rest of the year would be roses and fairy dust. Judging by some housing prices in some areas we may be in for a second burst bubble in that sector. Big banks dumped their bad loans on unsuspecting private equity firms who are now renting out the properties if they haven't been trashed first. Average rent around here runs $1000 or more per month. That's not something even two people making minimum wage could afford.
Trains planes automobiles and computers.
We've gone a bit too far in the respect of adding computers to everything. While they work great in some situations controlling everything is really not necessary. Who after all wants to hear a knock at the door and a repairman telling you that the refrigerator called him telling him it was sick when it was in fact a teenage computer hacker from Uzbecki beckistan having his kicks on a Friday night? And good luck finding that Maytag repairman when the fridge actually does go on the fritz. They don't make em here anymore and nobody knows how to fix them. What's that you say? The computer in the fridge needs replacing? Forget it and call the recycling company just hope they don't charge you to haul it away.
And with all the wi-fi signals to all the devices out there you just know it's a recipe for disaster. Cars, trains, and planes can be hacked now so don't believe it when they tell you it's foolproof there's smarter fools being born every day.
There's a terrorist under my bed
That's what the insurance companies would like you to believe. Got a homeowners policy? This is the latest rider for the squeamish. But do read the mouse print. It only covers you if Abdul or other lone wolf is running up your driveway with bomb in hand or explosive belt and does damage to your homestead. Should he be attacking your neighbor and accidentally takes out your property in the process the policy doesn't cover you. Pretty sneaky out if you ask me.
bank fails later
UPDATE: No fails this week
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Where has all the money gone?
Stock prices are at an all time high but consumers aren't rushing out to buy the latest fridge or flat screen. Corporations given what amounts to free money are off shoring it, paying little or no tax on it and reaping the rewards. Savers desperate for income have ventured into buying corporate bonds. Most savings accounts now pay about .25% interest if even that. This bodes well for CEOs who's bonuses are based on driving up the price of a company stock. That doesn't mean a company is actually making a profit. And what isn't being said or noticed is the amount of money corporations are borrowing. Non financial corporate debt stands at $1.6 trillion or 60% over profits. Gross cash flows have been at a mere 4%.
You'll note companies buying back their own stock. That's because their sales are so bad it's the only way to keep their stock price high. One caveat to all this is that it works well in a bull market but when the tide turns there's still the borrowed money to consider. Paybacks can be a bear (pun intended).
So how long can they keep this grand illusion going is anyone's guess, but one thing is certain it can't last forever. Who will flinch first an start the sell off? And who will be smart enough to get out while the getting is good. Guess it's human nature to wait until the very last second but by then you might just get run over by the heard leaving the building.
Keep an eye on Greece because next month they'll be faced with a repayment on their debt that there's no way they can make. The IMF and Euro zone banks have successfully sucked that country dry. And once again the off shoring of wealth was the primary cause.
Speaking of banks let's see what they did.
We have one bank in Chicago, Il that hit the skids this week. First one since Feb.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Earthquakes Volcanoes and War... Oh My
Terrorists? School shootings? A foreign virus? Get your fear here. You're more apt to be gunned down in a road rage incident here than any of those things. Everywhere you look here we're being sold fear. Toe nail fungus? Fear not there's a pill for that just don't listen to the side effects at the end of the ad. And what old man would like an erection that lasts more than four hours?
Not much you can do about earthquakes. They either happen or they don't. That's not to say we aren't helping them along with fracking. Just wish they wouldn't screw up the water in the process. If fracking water is so clean let's see you drink it Mr. oilman.
There's said to be some kind of super volcano off the west coast here out in the ocean. It's just a matter of time before it will blow. Can't worry about it because there's nothing we can do about it. It sure will be interesting when it does. But it seems just about every place on this planet has its' problems, be it weather, ground movement, or a plague of locusts.
Then there's war or as I call it man made stupidity. Ideologies aside wars are fought for one reason and one reason only and that's greed. Like two kids fighting over the last cookie in the jar we're never satisfied with what we have. We seem to want it all. All done by hook or crook and don't forget to send in the Marines. We probably have enough oil to last decades but we want yours and we'll take all your minerals while we're at it. So what if a couple hundred thousand die in the process no skin off our nose.
But I think we've seen this scenario play out in past history with the fall of the empires. Always wanting more and more until they couldn't hold on to what they had. And the process goes on with wealth as well. Not satisfied with having nearly all the cookies those at the top continue to snatch the few crumbs left somehow thinking that they should own everything. Beware when you create a class that has nothing left to lose. The end results will not be pretty. History doesn't lie and you can't change it no matter how hard you try.
Bank fails? Later perhaps...
Friday, April 24, 2015
Canada is set for a collision course. These are just a few parts of the problems. Canada made it through the economic collapse in 07 because consumer debt back then was low. Canadian banks were in a better position to weather the storm and the housing market wasn't anything like it was in the U.S. Fast forward to today. Canadian consumer debt is up 20% and even higher than it was in 07. Oil revenues are down as is the Canadian dollar. Economic growth was at 0% this past quarter. Can't speak for the entire country but Toronto and Vancouver housing markets have been booming as I'm sure Alberta's was as well. The Harper budget just came out . It may be balanced but at what cost? He gave out his goodies but check what areas he cut. And then there's the issue of how did he pay for all of this? Did he use the sales of GM stock? If so what's next when bills come due?
Items of note
Even before the budget came out the Harper government was touting what was to be in it, on the taxpayers dime I might add. It sounded more like a campaign flyer than a government announcement. And many of the promises had to be revamped before it was all finished as oil revenues slid. There was a delay for getting this out. Maybe they couldn't find the lipstick for this pig.
So how'd they do it? First they robbed the country's piggy bank for a couple of billion. What had been a cushion of $3 billion is now $1 billion. Don't expect that to change any time soon if the Tories hold power.
Income splitting - Letting couples divide their total income so that the tax rate is lower. Works well if one is making a lot of money but in reality this only helps the wealthy plus it lowers tax revenues. Paid for by eliminating the child tax credit.
TFSAs - That's like a Roth retirement savings account in the U.S. What it amounts to is money you've already paid tax on that won't be taxed again when you retire. All said and done you land up with less. Less because the accounts don't pay squat in interest, some have fees, and inflation will eat up the rest. This is a boon the the stock market guys who will gamble with the money. You'd be better off buying gold coins and hiding them in the closet.
Public transit - A fund starting at $250 million which local governments can borrow against meaning they can transfer the actual costs to taxpayers. The 250 number might sound like a lot but a mile of highway costs $2.5 million last I checked and that's the cheap part of highway construction.
Seniors - Don't have to withdraw as much from their retirement accounts. That'll keep more money in the hands of the bankers to play their game of Monopoly. And the home accessibility tax credit for renovations for seniors and disabled which just increased the cost of those home projects. You know how contractors work.
Security - A good chunk of change is going into security. Everything from increasing the spy budget to increases in the military. What ever happened to those $15 billion fighter jets? Oops it was $20 billion and climbing. Guess that's what jets do.
Manufacturing - Write off depreciation faster. Hum that'll take more taxes away, but not to worry government will just steal it from some place else.
Small business - A whopping 2% lowering of their tax bill to " stimulate growth". Unfortunately that wouldn't cover the cost of hiring one employee, 2% of $500,000 is a mere $10,000. Think Tim Horton's employees make more than that.
Public employees - It's sounding more and more like they'll get the shaft in all this and negotiations have not even begun. Expecting a $900 million savings without so much as a meeting is wishful thinking.
Ah but fear not, the good news Tory fairies will just magically shift all the responsibility to your grandchildren, problem solved.
Bank fails later
UPDATE: No fails this week
Saturday, April 18, 2015
(Back story - The Dutch traded beaver pelts in the 1600s. Beaver hats were all the rage in Europe until the fad died out and so did most of the beavers.)
Amazing the statistics on people moving about on this planet. Last report was 50 million people displaced by wars or natural disasters. People fleeing drug gangs in south america make up a few. The bulk of Iraqis middle class left the country after the second Iraq war and you can bet they're trying their best to avoid ISIS. Syria lost more than 40% of it's population with 300,000 reported dead, 2.5 million in refugee camps in surrounding countries and 6.5 million displaced within the country. And these are old figures. Everyone's wanting to get to safer ground.
People in northern Africa seem to be headed to Italy by the boat load. Australia and New Zealand is seeing its' share of boat people. All for the opportunity of safety and maybe a better life. But the backlash is growing as such mass influx of people all at once is putting a strain on local resources. But these migrations aren't limited to just third world countries. It's a safe bet Greece Spain and Ireland has seen its' share of those wanted to get out and probably did while the getting was good. Unemployment numbers are far greater than have been reported. Here in the U.S when your unemployment runs out you magically are no longer counted. So the 5.5% national figure is a load of bull. And just because you did manage to get a job doesn't mean it pays a living wage or was full time. On the plus side at least we don't have to dodge drone strikes on the way to work.
There's a hostility that's permeating the entire globe so I'd say we're due for another crash only this time worse than the last. Debt is being passed around like a hot potato and the effects are being gravely felt. Austerity does not make for a healthy economy but I guess world leaders forgot the crash of 1929.
Speaking of which there were no bank fails this week, but I get a feeling that one of the big banks will fail by years end or early next year.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
A black, half Latino, Muslim, handy capped, gay, socialist woman should run for president. That way we could sit back and watch the right wingers heads explode. But no we're stuck with the clown circus here. We have Ted (I'm not a Canadian) Cruse who has about as much chance of becoming a president as I do of becoming a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. To his donors: save your bucks boys you just might need em when the economy tanks in the next year or two. Scott (I've got to mess in women's feminine health care needs cause I ain't getting any at home) Walker. Scotty thinks that by destroying unions we'll somehow raise the middle class. It was unions that created the middle class. Guess he skipped class when they talked about that.
Ah but this is only the beginning of the clown parade. There seems to be many more packed into the clown car just waiting to get out. There's Chris (Shut the hell up) Christie who's still under federal investigation for what he did with the hurricane Sandy money. A particular part of Jersey not affected by the storm got a whole lot of Sandy money. Sorry guys we don't need Ralph Cramden as president it won't play well in De Moines.
Let's squeeze out Ben Carson who's sounding like a replacement for Mr. 999 Herman Cain. And while he may be a gifted surgeon his chances are slim to none of sitting in the oval office. Can't have a black man there even if he's on their side.
But if you think he's crazy you haven't seen anything yet. Here's one I bet you never heard of, Jack Fellure. Jack who? Jack Fellure a retired engineer from West Virginia who's running with the Prohibition Party. Last time he ran he got a grand total of 519 votes, not enough to be elected dog catcher. Maybe he should just put on his spats and go after some rum runners. Yes we're talking that prohibition.
Then there's Mark Everson. Reading his profile he looks to be the least crazy of the lot which will probably make him ineligible to make it through the primaries. Going after Big Banks and reinstating a military draft will definitely put him at odds with most of the country. And we must face the new reality that any idea halfway sane has little chance of making it through our lunatic congress especially when they have voted against the very bills that they wrote and brought up on the floors of the House and Senate. It was like a crazy street person arguing with himself. Shut Up! Don't tell me to shut up.
No bank fails this week, but a note on that matter. I lost track of the actual number somewhere around 450.
Friday, April 3, 2015
This is my lucky beaver skin hat (not really) Lucky for me, not so much for the beaver.
Don't know why they call it "good friday" when some guy got nailed to a cross, but what do I know . You have people worshiping a rock in the middle of the desert. Hey guys it's a meteor if you didn't know. But all in the reality of superstition we do things that make no logical sense. Spock is laughing his butt off in another dimension. So don't forget your magic underwear and ladies cover you heads for cripes sake. Hum that reminds me of a little happening some years back goes something like this:
Was doing some work at some apartments and at the request of one of the tenants was asked to check on a broken appliance. Went to the door and a very attractive young middle eastern gal answered wearing a tight tank top and tight stretch pants that left little to the imagination, if you know what I mean. She quickly explained the problem but nervously ran to the back room only to come back with a hajib on her head still displaying the rest of her body in her tight clothes.
What crazy little boxes we create for ourselves. In India I hear it's against the law to show a couple kissing in a movie. That might explain why the country has the highest rape figures. Sexually frustrated men and treating women like an object to be hidden behind a vail doesn't make for a healthy situation. But it all goes back to superstitions. Who ever though of throwing a virgin into a volcano to appease some fire god must have been smokin some heavy stuff and yet here we are some thousand plus years later doing much the same. Face it that lucky bowling shirt is just a shirt and your team isn't going to come from behind just because you turned your baseball cap inside out. It looks stupid by the way.
Take a step back and look at your own superstitions. Do they really make any sense? I might not walk under a ladder not because it's bad luck but because I know the idiot stupidly standing on the top rung up there might just drop something on my head.
Bank fails later
No fails this week so keep your bitcoins close and safe.