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Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012 - Don't let the door hit ya...

where the good Lord split ya.

2012 wasn't a terrible year, but it was another rut year. Here's to the hope that 2013 will be better, but by the looks of things it isn't going to be better for the country. Oh, it might be better for some individuals, but as a collective it looks like it will be another rut year... an insane year. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Once again the agenda is being driven by self interests and the brain dead discussion about the Fiscal Cliff. Like I have told you, there will be a deal made and you are going to be worse off because of it. We commoners will pay and the Richie Rich's will continue paying their lawyers and accountants to duck and dodge their responsibilities.

Like I told a person the other day, the Republican's constantly p*** and moan about unions and then they turn around and run their party like a union. Everything is based on seniority and new thoughts and ideas are pushed to the background and the younger people are told to wait their turn as the Bitter Old Men drive us nowhere.

The big question leaving 2012. You took care of your Wall Street buddies and helped them send jobs overseas. You imposed a costly military industrial and security apparatus over us that is stifling the country's ability to grow from a cost/expense aspect. For every job that has been created more have been destroyed and now you can't paper it over any more. Now come the spending cuts and tax increases. Do you think that people are going to willingly crawl in the corner and starve to death when the ultimate result goes down?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- December 30, 2012

16 Things About 2013 That Are Really Going To Stink - The Economic Collapse Blog -
Michael Snyder - December 27th, 2012 - The beginning of the year has traditionally been a time of optimism when we all look forward to the exciting things that are going to happen over the next 12 months. Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of things about 2013 that we already know are going to stink. Taxes are going to go up, good paying jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be destroyed, the number of Americans living in poverty will continue to soar, our infrastructure will continue to decay, global food supplies will likely continue to dwindle and the U.S. national debt will continue to explode. Our politicians continue to pursue the same policies that got us into this mess, and yet they continue to expect things to magically turn around. But that is not the way that things work in the real world. Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes. Instead of realizing that what we are doing is not working, our "leaders" continue to give us more of the same. As a result, there are going to be a lot of things about 2013 that will not be great. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything will be "okay" somehow is not going to help anyone. We've got to make people understand exactly what is happening and why it is happening if we ever hope to see real changes. The following are 16 things about 2013 that are really going to stink...
#1 Taxes Are Going To Go Up...
#2 The Middle Class Is About To Be Scorched By The Alternative Minimum Tax...
#3 The Economy Will Continue To Get Worse...
#4 Good Paying Jobs Will Continue To Be Shipped Out Of The United States...
#5 Small Businesses Will Continue To Be Destroyed...
#6 Hunger And Poverty Will Continue To Explode To Unprecedented Levels...
#7 The Number Of Americans On Food Stamps Will Continue To Increase...
#8 Millions Of Americans Are About To Lose Their Unemployment Benefits...
#9 Our Infrastructure Will Continue To Rot And Decay...
#10 Many Of Our Major Cities Will Continue To Be Transformed Into Festering Hellholes...
#11 State And Local Governments Will Find Ways To Squeeze Even More Money Out Of Us...
#12 Drug Cartels Will Continue To Easily Cross Our Borders And Terrorize Our Citizens...
#13 Social Decay Will Continue To Accelerate...
#14 Global Food Supplies Will Continue To Dwindle...
#15 Wall Street Will Continue To Resemble A Giant Casino...
#16 The U.S. National Debt Will Cross The 17 Trillion Dollar Mark...


Ron Paul On The Fiscal Cliff: "We Have Passed The Point Of No Return" - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - December 29, 2012 -  In a little under three minutes, Ron Paul explains to a somewhat nonplussed CNBC anchor just how ridiculous the charade that is occurring in D.C. actually is. This succinct spin-free clip should be required viewing for each and every asset-manager, talking-head, propagandist, and mom-and-pop who are viewing the last-minute idiocy of the 'fiscal cliff' debacle with some hope that things will be different this time. "We have passed the point of no return where we can actually get our house back in order," Paul begins, adding that "they pretend they are fighting up there, but they really aren't. They are arguing over power, spin, who looks good, who looks bad; all trying to preserve the system where they can spend what they want, take care of their friends and print money when they need it." With social safety nets available to rich and poor, there is no impetus for change and "the country loses," but Paul concludes, the markets are starting to say "there is a limit to this."


Bob Shiller On The 'Housing Recovery': "Highly Uncertain, It's Risky" - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - December 28, 2012 - Sometimes, taking a break from the mainstream view of the world is healthy for our sheep-like tendencies to follow the herd. To wit, Robert Shiller can't understand the enthusiasm for the long-term recovery outlook of the housing market. With rentals rising and home-ownership dwindling, Shiller, in this Bloomberg TV clip, questions the positivity noting that the outlook is 'fuzzy' at best; and in fact in the short-term is negative as MoM things have deteriorated modestly (though seasonally). He note that the focus has been on multi-family residences and "if you are sitting in a suburban single-family house - what is your outlook? Highly uncertain - It's Risky!" And in one of the most prescient comments of recent weeks, Shiller admits something that many others should try: "[the outlook] could be up; but I don't see how anyone knows?" adding that another plausible outlook for the next five years is that "housing stays right where it is now," adding that Zillow's 1.3% annual real growth expectation could be too optimistic.


Payback time: Florida homeowners foreclosing on banks - CNN Money - Les Christie - December 26, 2012Since the housing bubble burst in Florida five years ago, more than 400,000 borrowers have had their homes foreclosed on by their lenders. But for some, it's payback time.                   Hundreds of homeowners and condo associations are foreclosing on banks that have failed to pay dues and other expenses on the properties they've repossessed.                     When banks foreclose on a home they become responsible for paying fees to the homeowners association -- both any unpaid fees going back as far as 12 months and all expenses going forward.                     In many cases, however, banks are failing to pay, leaving these associations short on cash, according to Miami-based attorney Ben Solomon.                   But now, homeowners groups are putting liens on the properties until banks pay up and foreclosing on them if they don't.                      Related: American Dream homes: Prices in 9 cities                 So far, Solomon's firm has filed more than 1,100 liens against banks on behalf of homeowners and has pursued 131 foreclosures. In more than 90% of the cases, he said, the banks settle by paying the bills.                      The banks' failure to pay dues has consequences. Other homeowners have to make up the difference, or the homeowners associations may lack the money they need for things like routine maintenance, security, water and garbage collection.                         Don Gonzales owns a townhouse in a condo community on a golf course in Homestead, Fla., where Solomon recently filed suit to foreclose on JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) to recover $20,000 it owed on more than two years of dues and common charges.
"I own two properties and it really ticks me off when the banks don't pay their fair share," he said. "Everybody else has to make it up."



5 fiscal-cliff effects on your wallet - MarketWatch - Kelli B. Grant - December 29, 2012 - As Congress continues working toward a deal that could avoid the fiscal cliff, consumers may want to consider what going over it could mean for their wallets.                     The most talked-about impact, naturally, would be higher tax rates. (This fall, we estimated that taxpayers in the bottom quintile would see their bill increase by $412; the middle class, by $1,984. Read “What a fiscal-cliff plunge would cost you.” ) But experts say the cliff’s broad budget cuts affecting nearly all government agencies would have a trickle-down effect that would hit consumers in less expected ways in 2013 and beyond—some involving price hikes, others decreases. “There is a dizzying variety of things the government pays for,” says Jack Plunkett, chief executive of consulting firm Plunkett Research....       
Cheaper gasoline... Longer airport waits ... Pricier groceries... Bigger retail discounts... Riskier foods and drugs...



Yes, we can fix Social Security (but it won't be pretty) - Life Inc. on Today - Allison Linn, TODAY - December 24, 2012 - ... Experts say there are two ways to fix Social Security, and neither of them are pretty: reduce benefits or increase revenue...                The proposed switch to calculating cost of living increases using the chained Consumer Price Index instead of the current method would result in smaller annual Social Security raises. That’s because that method assumes that people change their spending habits when prices go up.                 Proponents say the switch could save billions and is a more realistic method of how Americans really adjust to rising prices.                  But opponents say the chained Consumer Price Index isn’t a good way to measure the needs of older and disabled Americans, because their expenditures are disproportionately focused on things like health care. A family of four may choose to eat more chicken if beef prices go up, but an elderly person can’t easily choose to spend less on heart medicine, they argue.                      Under the current rules, the maximum taxable earnings for Social Security in 2012 is about $110,000. Some argue that an easy fix would be to simply raise the cap on Social Security taxes to include higher wages.                       Baker, of CEPR, proposes raising the cap to around $190,000, reflecting the growing wealth at the top of the income scale. Raise it higher than that, he said, and wealthy earners will just start finding ways to dodge it.                     But others say that it’s unlikely politicians will propose raising taxes on high earners now, when many expect those taxpayers to already see increases as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations.


U.S. retailers scramble after lackluster holiday sales - Reuters - Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Jessica Wohl - December 26, 2012The 2012 holiday season may have been the worst for retailers since the 2008 financial crisis, with sales growth far below expectations, forcing many to offer massive post-Christmas discounts in hopes of shedding excess inventory.                   While chains like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Gap Inc are thought to have done well, analysts expect much less from the likes of book seller Barnes & Noble Inc and department store chain J. C. Penney Co Inc.              Shares of retailers dropped sharply on Wednesday, helping drag broader indexes lower, as investors realized they were likely to be disappointed when companies start to report results in a few weeks' time...                    Growth was always expected to slow this season, though an improving employment picture and rising home values had helped mitigate the worst fears. But then Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in late October, mild weather blunted sales of winter clothing and rising concern about the "fiscal cliff" became more of a reality, dragging down already-pessimistic forecasts.                    The latest sign of trouble came from MasterCard Advisors Spending Pulse, which reported holiday-related sales rose 0.7 percent from October 28 through December 24, compared with a 2 percent increase last year.                       The preliminary estimate from SpendingPulse was in line with other estimates showing weak growth during the holiday season, when retailers can book about 30 percent of annual sales - and in many cases, half of their profit.





Thrive 2011

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Riding with the Hound - December 24, 2012 - Part 2 - w/Landmarks

I took some good advice from a follower and I will include landmarks and I am also going to go and physically show you some of the landmarks associated with the issues that we have been talking about here on the Hound.

The following is a ride from 29th Avenue (Havenwood neighborhood across from the Church of the Master)to 1859 Cafe (443 2nd Ave SW).


Friday, December 28, 2012

Riding with the Hound - December 24, 2012

This will be a new series where I film some of my travels through Hickory. This was from Christmas Eve around 5pm. I had gone to check on 1859 Cafe, yes it's closed, and from there I headed to WalMart in Granite Falls to pick up a couple Spicy Italian subs to take over to my Grandmother's for my Grandmother, Mother, and self.

When I was a kid it was always a tradition for the family to get together and have snacks, soup and sandwiches on Christmas Eve. I at least wanted to pay some tribute to that tradition this year. Times are certainly changing and I certainly miss the good ole days. Most all of my family is now dead or moved away now, but I know that nobody cares to hear about that, so I won't digress about that anymore.

Hope you enjoy the ride and for you out-of-towners maybe you will learn how to get around town easier.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ohhhh... It's gonna get excitin again

Just you wait and see.

2013... are you ready?


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012 with Music

The following is the opening of the Christmas Eve Program at Mt. Olive Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hickory, North Carolina. The Music is presented by the Church's Musical Director Andris Rosulkalns and the Mt. Olive Choir

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas - Remember Two Years Ago - White Christmas 2010



2010 was a special Christmas. It had been 63 years since the last Super Duper White Christmas, although we had seen snow on Christmas's a few times in my life. No snow had stuck and lasted like this one did.

This was to be my grandmother's last Christmas. She was riding shotgun in the car with me that day, as she had done so many times in the past, as we traveled to my other grandmother's house for a family dinner. She passed away 7 1/2 months later. I knew that this might very well be her last Christmas that day. We did everything we could to make it a great day for her.

I don't have much family left. As you get older, you remember those times when you were younger. Those are the greatest times of you life and you should cherish them. You need to communicate that with your children. You need to enjoy this and your family. Those toys or those clothes won't amount to a hill of beans in 25 or 50 years. What will matter are the memories you share with family and friends. Those are the things that you will have the rest of your life. Make them happy, positive, and wholesome, because who knows what tomorrow holds.

Peace Be with you all.

Here's to you Mammaw (Cheers)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- December 23, 2012

20 Signs That The U.S. Poverty Explosion Is Hitting Children And Young People The Hardest – The Economic Collapse Blog - By Michael, on December 19th, 2012 - The mainstream media continues to insist that the economy is "getting better", but the poverty numbers for children and young people just continue to explode.  For example, did you know that the poverty rate for families with a head of household under the age of 30 is a whopping 37 percent?  Children and young people sure didn't cause our recent economic downturn, but they sure are getting hit the hardest by it.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, for the first time ever more than a million U.S. public school students are homeless.  That seems like an impossible number, but it is actually true.  How in the world could the "wealthiest nation on earth" get to the point where more than a million children can't count on a warm bed to sleep in at night?  Sadly, a huge number of American children can't count on a warm dinner either.  About a fourth of them are enrolled in the food stamp program.  What do you do if you are a parent in that kind of situation?  How do you explain to your kids that you can't afford a nice home like everybody else has or that you can't afford to go to the grocery store and buy them some dinner?                       Young people are experiencing very rough times right now as well.  If you are under the age of 30, it is really, really difficult to get a job in America today.  The competition for the few decent jobs that seem to be available is absolutely crazy.  Unemployment among young people is at a level that we have not seen since World War II, and this is causing major problems.                    Even if you do have a college degree, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get any type of a job.  In fact, more than half of all college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.  There are millions of very talented college graduates that are waiting tables, making sandwiches or stocking shelves down at the local branch of a global retail conglomerate.  Meanwhile, they are saddled with record breaking amounts of student loan debt.
This is easily the worst economic environment that we have seen for young people since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  The number of good jobs continues to decline.  Many young people are faced with the choice of taking a bad job or having no job at all.                             If you are under 30 in America today, you better hope that you come from a wealthy family or that you have some really good connections, because otherwise the future looks pretty bleak for you.                       The following are 20 signs that the U.S. poverty explosion is hitting children and young people the hardest...



75 Economic Numbers From 2012 That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael - December 20th, 2012 - What a year 2012 has been!  The mainstream media continues to tell us what a "great job" the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class.  It is imperative that we educate the American people about the true condition of our economy and about why all of this is happening.  If nothing is done, our debt problems will continue to get worse, millions of jobs will continue to leave the country, small businesses will continue to be suffocated, the middle class will continue to collapse, and poverty in the United States will continue to explode.  Just "tweaking" things slightly is not going to fix our economy.  We need a fundamental change in direction.  Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic "adjustment" that America has ever gone through.  We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done.  Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that I have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.                       The end of the year is a time when people tend to gather with family and friends more than they do during the rest of the year.  Hopefully many of you will use the list below as a tool to help start some conversations about the coming economic collapse with your loved ones.  Sadly, most Americans still tend to doubt that we are heading into economic oblivion.  So if you have someone among your family and friends that believes that everything is going to be "just fine", just show them these numbers.  They are a good summary of the problems that the U.S. economy is currently facing.                         The following are 50 economic numbers from 2012 that are almost too crazy to believe...


The Fiscal Cliff Is A Diversion: The Derivatives Tsunami and the Dollar Bubble - - Paul Craig Roberts - December 17, 2012 - The “fiscal cliff” is another hoax designed to shift the attention of policymakers, the media, and the attentive public, if any, from huge problems to small ones.
The fiscal cliff is automatic spending cuts and tax increases in order to reduce the deficit by an insignificant amount over ten years if Congress takes no action itself to cut spending and to raise taxes. In other words, the “fiscal cliff” is going to happen either way.                     The problem from the standpoint of conventional economics with the fiscal cliff is that it amounts to a double-barrel dose of austerity delivered to a faltering and recessionary economy. Ever since John Maynard Keynes, most economists have understood that austerity is not the answer to recession or depression.
Regardless, the fiscal cliff is about small numbers compared to the Derivatives Tsunami or to bond market and dollar market bubbles.                             The fiscal cliff requires that the federal government cut spending by $1.3 trillion over ten years. The Guardian reports that means the federal deficit has to be reduced about $109 billion per year or 3 percent of the current budget.                   http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/27/fiscal-cliff-explained-spending-cuts-tax-hikes More simply, just divide $1.3 trillion by ten and it comes to $130 billion per year. This can be done by simply taking a three month vacation each year from Washington’s wars.                             The Derivatives Tsunami and the bond and dollar bubbles are of a different magnitude.                     Last June 5 in “Collapse At Hand” http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/06/05/collapse-at-hand/ I pointed out that according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s fourth quarter report for 2011, about 95% of the $230 trillion in US derivative exposure was held by four US financial institutions: JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, and Goldman Sachs...


Guest Post: The Upside Of The Fiscal Cliff - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - December 21, 2012 - 1. We are finally starting a national discussion of spending-taxation trade-offs.               2. We are at last starting to (grudgingly) accept there is no free lunch, what I call the Free Lunch Fantasy of limitless borrowing at near-zero interest rates: taxes for upper-income wage-earners will revert to previous levels while those drawing Federal dollars must accept reductions in spending....             
Simply put, the retirement and healthcare systems were not designed to match the nation's demographics, nor was Medicare designed to limit costs, which continue to rise faster than inflation, despite various cost-saving measures...                     Combine these trends with stagnating wages and employment and you get a triple-whammy: soaring number of retirees, rising Medicare costs per retiree and a stagnating tax base...                
The Fed's purchases of Federal debt enabled the Free Lunch fantasy. Rather than let the market price Federal debt higher, which would have set limits on Federal borrowing, the Fed's purchases of Treasury bonds suppressed the recognition that there was a cost to essentially unlimited Federal borrowing.                 All these policies that enabled the Free Lunch Fantasy are reaching financial and/or political limits. The fiscal cliff is one expression of this recognition, and it is very positive that Americans are finally facing up to the personal costs of dealing with reality: higher taxes and lower Federal spending are no longer abstractions to be borne by others. We will pay more taxes and we will get fewer benefits/Federal contracts, and these reductions in income will negatively impact the economy.                        Facing reality is positive. That's the upside to the fiscal cliff.
 


Beef prices may hit record high in 2013 - CNN Money - Annalyn Kurtz - December 14, 2012 -
Your hamburger could cost more in 2013.                   Global beef prices are expected to rise to record highs in 2013, according to Rabobank, a Dutch financial firm with a focus on agriculture. Their analysts point to the "lethargic world economy," and a beef supply that has largely remained flat for six years straight.                       In the United States alone, beef production is expected to decline significantly in 2013, whether or not droughts in the Midwest continue.                Even if more rain restores pastures next year, beef production could be down as much as 9%, said David Nelson, a Rabobank analyst. "This is because ranchers would then hold back young females (heifers) for breeding to expand, instead of sending them to the market," he said.                   If the drought continues, ranchers are more likely to send their heifers to market sooner, but still, Nelson said he expects beef production to be down about 4%. Currently, Rabobank says the prime cattle feeding regions of the U.S. are under "severe to exceptional drought conditions."                     In October, the price for a pound of lean ground beef averaged $4.11,  up 30 cents from a year earlier. A USDA Choice sirloin steak cost about $6.75 a pound, up 43 cents from a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.                         Demand for beef is expected to fall in the United States next year as well. Americans are predicted to eat around 55 pounds of beef per person in 2013, down from about 58 pounds this year, according to USDA estimates.


Only 15 States Opt to Run Obamacare Exchanges - CNBC - David Morgan - December 13, 2012 - Only 15 states have told the federal government they plan to operate health insurance exchanges under President Barack Obama's reform law, leaving Washington with the daunting task of creating online marketplaces for two-thirds of the country.                          On the eve of a federal deadline for states to say whether they will run their own exchanges, a top health care policy official told lawmakers that the exchanges will start enrolling eligible families starting on Oct. 1...             
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Obama signed into law more than 2 1/2 years ago, is expected to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans. Those who enroll in Obamacare starting in October would be covered by insurance from Jan. 1, 2014.                          About half of those newly insured individuals would purchase private coverage from online exchanges at federally subsidized rates. Ultimately, the number of people finding coverage through exchanges is expected to reach 26 million, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.                          The remainder would be covered by expanding the Medicaid program for the poor to cover all adults earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,000 for individuals and $30,600 for a family of four.


NC's high-tech job market continues to plunge
- WRAL Techwire - Mike Smith - December 14, 2012
- Employers across North Carolina are playing Scrooge when it comes to hiring information technology workers these days.            High-tech job openings across North Carolina fell again in November, continuing what has turned into a downright plunge in advertised positions since March, says the latest IT Job Trends report from the North Carolina Technology Association.                  Just as SkillProof warned back in July, high-tech job openings peaked early this year - long before any talk about a "fiscal cliff" or any other political garbage coming out of Washington.                   The downward trend in openings stretched to five consecutive months, based on the latest report that was issued Friday.            Openings fell to 3,550, a 3.8 percent drop from October.                  But that one-month drop isn't the only indicator of just how bad the job market is getting.                    A year ago, employers were looking for 3,890 employees.                  In 2010, the number was 4,010.


Historic 121-year-old country store in Lake Norman area closing - TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte - WCNC 36 - December 17, 2012 - The historic Terrell Country store in the Lake Norman area is closing at the end of the year.            Owner Joe Rose says he can't afford to keep it open in a bad economy with customers who don't spend like they used to out of concern they could lose their jobs in 2013.                  The store at the intersection of Highway 150 and Sherrills Ford Road in Catawba County was built in 1891 and has pretty much always been a country store or antique store over the years, Rose said.    He has owned the store for about three years.               Inside you can find a little bit of everything, from meat to candy, toys to trinkets, nostalgia to nautical.                    Carroll Lineberger came to the store as a kid and remains a regular customer.                     "We'd get a Coke, crackers and cheese.  We had a ball. This was like home to us," he said.                 The store caters to locals, plus Lake Norman boaters and summer home renters.                     When times were good, folks would come in and hang out a while. Rose says the average register ring up when he first owned it was about $50 to $60 per customer.  Since then, he says the average has slipped to under $5 per customer.                    "In November it dropped to the point where we couldn't pay the rent and light bill," he said.  "A lot of our regular customers who are with major corporations tell us they really don't know if they will have a job tomorrow."                         Overall, Rose says people aren't spending money.                         His going out of business sale appears to be the exception.  Even pictures on the wall and the snowman out front are fair game.                        "It's sad this kind of thing isn't able to make it any more," Rose said.                          "We're going to miss it," said Lineberger.                        It's a piece of local history shutting down, and Rose wishes the story ended there.                      He says the reality is his store will join a list of about nine other businesses in the same area  that have gone under in the last six months.                        Rose plans to take a few weeks off after the store closed and figure out what's next.                          An antique store is scheduled to open in its place in February.


Thousands could lose jobs as sweepstakes parlors close - WRAL TV (Raleigh) - Mark Binker - December 17, 2012 - Around 6,000 workers could lose their jobs as the result of a state Supreme Court ruling upholding North Carolina's ban on video sweepstakes, according to one estimate. Julius C. (JC) Poindexter, a former professor of economics and finance at N.C. State, wrote a paper in 2011 that estimated that between 4,800 to 6,000 jobs could be directly tied to the sweepstakes industry in North Carolina. That paper, Poindexter said, was financed by those who manufacture software for the industry. Poindexter's paper points out that the economic impact of the cafes goes beyond the workers themselves. It includes the services, such as electricity and phone lines, and rent that the cafes use. From the white paper...


Gerald Celente on Jeff Rense Show - December 13, 2012 - Gerald speaks about Trends for the upcoming year and future. Gerald talks about his win in the recent court decision over Google and wraps up the Trends for 2012.                       The Trends Journal® is the World's #1 source for the most important trends that are shaping the future. The Trends Journal® shows you how these trends will affect your life, how to profit from them, and what to do to avoid pitfalls. Regardless of business or profession, the Trends Journal® provides insights, strategies and opportunities to help you navigate these treacherous, unprecedented times.




Friday, December 21, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of December 18, 2012

 This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

You will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 12/18/2012 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

 All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link: 

City Council Action Agenda - December 18, 2012 - Mayor Wright and Alderman Seaver not Present



Invocation by Rev, Bud Zehmer, Pastor Church of the Master United Church of Christ

Special Presentations
A. (2:30) - Presentation of a Proclamation to Hickory Jaycees


Council allowing Citizens to speak about Agenda Items
At the 7:00 mark, James Davis makes the following presentation to the City Council:

Council members, I appreciate you allowing me to address items of concern on the Agenda that you are set to vote upon. I am asking that the Budget Ordinance Amendment Item Number 2 be removed from the Consent Agenda for further discussion, because it does not fit with the Parking Fund Ordinance created by a Previous Council and City Administration.

Allow me to read the ordinance to you that was passed out to you.


It is my belief, and that of the Citizens for Equity in Government, that this was the issue with the tent constructed last year on Union Square. It had nothing to do with parking. So, you broke the law that you have sworn to uphold.

As section one states, this money is set aside for funding future parking facility Capital project needs. This fund was created to increase Parking Capacity and address its issues, not for the security purposes of Union Square businesses. Let's be honest these cameras have a lot more to do with securing Union Square's private business interests, than securing the parking lots associated with Union Square.

The businesses on Union Square should address their own security issues like every other private business in other areas of the city have to do. We understand the desire for security, but if Union Square businesses want to collectively improve their security, then should they not be doing this through the Downtown Development Association? Wasn't that what that entity was created for?

Now y'all can go on and unanimously do what you intended to do all along, but thank you for allowing us to go on the record about the continued misappropriation of this fund.



Consent Agenda: (12:10)
A. Transfer of a Cemetery Deed from Robert Edgar Lail, Jr. and wife, Kathy Robinette Lail, Trudy Diana Austin Brower, Widow and Sarah Elizabeth Lail Eaton, Widow, to Jeanette Frances Lail Pittman in Oakwood Cemetery

B. Approval to Extend Public Parking Area in the Large Parking Lot (Lot#2) across North Center Street from City Hall. - Traffic Division has studied the parking lot (Lot #2) located across North Center Street from City Hall. Currently in the parking area, which is two-hour parking, there are thirty seven (37) spaces which include two handicapped spaces. If the public area is increased to match the shape and layout of the parking lot, this will increase the number of public parking spaces to fifty-four (54). Also, by increasing the time restriction from two hours to three hours, any visitors will have more time to explore downtown.

C. Approval of an Agreement for Future Voluntary Annexation for Superior Homes and Land located at 1842 22nd Street NE, PIN No. 3713-12-97-6105. - Superior Homes and Land request connection to the City of Hickory’s water and sewer system without being annexed. The property is located in the City’s extra-territorial jurisdictional area. An analysis has determined the annexation of the property would not be economically feasible for the City of Hickory at the present time. They have agreed to be annexed at some time in the future, when the City finds it economically feasible to do so.

D. Call for Public Hearing – Regarding the Financing Concept for the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade and Expansion. (Authorize Public Hearing for January 2, 2013)

E. Approval of a Resolution supporting an application to the Local Government Commission for the financing agreement for the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility upgrade and expansion. In order for a local government in North Carolina to finance a project, approval is to be obtained from the Local Government Commission (LGC). The LGC requires a resolution be passed by City Council prior to the LGC’s approval of the financing agreement application. In order to meet the application deadline, the completed LGC application must be received more than 28 days prior to the scheduled LGC meeting on February 5, 2013. The resolution resolves that the City is in financial standing to finance this project using the installment purchase debt method without raising taxes, and includes an opinion by the City’s Attorney that the proposed project is authorized by law.

F. Approval of a Deed of Easement for Bus Shelters from the City of Hickory to the Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority. - The City has erected and maintained a number of bus shelters throughout the city and also in the Newton area over a number of years. Some shelters were erected when the City operated the Piedmont Wagon Transit System; some have been erected since the creation of the Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority (WPRTA). When the WPRTA was formed, the plan was for the new authority to assume the operation and maintenance of the shelters.

G. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance through the City of
Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following request was considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their regular meeting on December 6, 2012:

 Nancy Braswell was approved for recommendation to City Council for first-time
homebuyer’s assistance to purchase a house located at 452 South Center Street, Hickory. She had requested $6,500 for assistance with down payment and closing costs. The First-Time Homebuyers Assistance Loan is zero interest, no payments and repaid upon sale, refinance or payoff of first mortgage.

Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2010 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program. The following applicant is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2011 Urgent Repair Program. This program provides qualified low income citizens assistance for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $6,000.

 Dorothy Adams, 235 10th Avenue SE, Hickory, not to exceed $4,880. (Used $1,120 in URP10 funds)


H. Approval of a Proclamation for Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Day, January 11, 2013.

Budget Ordinance Amendment
1. To transfer $40,283 of General Fund Contingency to the Governing Body Professional Services-Elections line item. This amendment is necessary to pay Catawba County Board of Elections for expenses incurred for the Referendum Election held on September 18, 2012.

2. To appropriate $23,302 of Capital Reserve Parking Fund and transfer to the Public Buildings M&R of Equipment line item. This budget amendment is necessary to pay for the upgrade to the downtown parking lot camera system. With addition of the new cameras, the system has outgrown what the infrastructure can support. The upgrade will add storage, increase bandwidth and upgrade the software platform to allow for the number of cameras now installed on the network.
(Item pulled from the Consent Agenda - Citizen James Davis asked that the item be pulled and Alderman Lail initiated the process with Alderman Meisner and Alderman Lail making the motions to remove the item) - Discussed by the Council and given unanimous approval 5-0 mayor Wight and Alderman Seaver were absent

3. To appropriate $7,597 of Transportation Fund Balance and budget in the FBO Maintenance & Repair of Buildings ($5,000), Departmental Supplies ($1,600) and Fuel and Motor Oil ($997) line items. $7,597 of Miscellaneous Airport Revenue went into the Transportation Fund Balance at FY11-12 year end; therefore an appropriation is necessary to make those funds available for purchases this fiscal year.

Informational Items
A. Report of Mayor Rudy Wright’s travel to North Carolina League of Municipalities, Transportation Forum, Raleigh, NC on November 14-15, 2012 (Lodging - $111.63, Meals - $34.00)

New Business - Public Hearing
1. (15:00) Voluntary Annexation of City owned property located at the corner of 21st Street NW and 9th Avenue Drive NW. - The City of Hickory has submitted a petition for the contiguous voluntary annexation of .87 acres of property located at the intersection of 21st Street NW and 9th Avenue Drive NW, which is part of the tract occupied by the Hickory Municipal Airport. The City of Hickory maintains 21st Street NW which follows a north to south route from Clement Boulevard NW to 9th Avenue Drive NW. Although the street is used by the general public, the right-of-way was never dedicated for such. This public hearing was advertised on December 7, 2012 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area. Cal Overby Presentation. Council Unanimous Consent.







2. ( 19:50)  Resolution Directing Street Improvement Project be Undertaken Along a Portion of 304 and 336 10th Ave NE for Curb and Gutter, Petition No. 02-12 - The City Clerk has received a petition from the owners of property along a portion of 10th Ave NE, to install curb and gutter per Section 29-2 of the Hickory City Code. The signatures on the petition represent 100% of the property owners affected. The City Clerk has certified that the Preliminary Resolution adopted by the City Council on November 20, 2012 was mailed by first class mail on November 29, 2012 to the owners of the property subject to assessment should the project be undertaken. This petition comes to us through our normal curb and gutter process where both the property owner and the City participate in the costs. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on December 3, 2012. Council Unanimous Consent.

3. (21:35) Resolution Directing Street Improvement Project be Undertaken Along a Portion of 304 10th Ave NE for Sidewalk, Petition No. 03-12 - The City Clerk has received a petition from the owners of property along a portion of 10th Ave NE, to install sidewalk per Section 29-2 of the Hickory City Code. The signatures on the petition represent 100% of the property owners affected. The City Clerk has certified that the Preliminary Resolution adopted by the City Council on November 20, 2012 was mailed by first class mail on November 29, 2012 to the owners of the property subject to assessment should the project be undertaken. This petition comes to us through our normal sidewalk process where both the property owner and the City participate in the costs. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on December 3, 2012. Council Unanimous Consent.

4. (22:50) Resolution and Order for Petition of Robert Lee Combs Jr., Cynthia C. Combs; Kenneth R. Abernethy, Linda Yvonne McCall Abernethy; Patricia Abernethy Bolch and Alan C. Bolch to Close a Portion of 10th Avenue Place NE, in the 400 Block. - On October 5, 2012, Attorney Terry Taylor, presented a petition on behalf of Robert Lee Combs Jr., Cynthia C. Combs; Kenneth R. Abernethy, Linda Yvonne McCall Abernethy; Patricia Abernethy Bolch and Alan C. Bolch, the owners of property abutting a portion of 10th Avenue Place NE, in the 400 block, requested the City to abandon a portion of this right-of-way. This portion of the right-of-way is no longer necessary for public use and appears the closing is not contrary to public interest. Staff recommends that the City retain all utility easements. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on November 23, November 30, December 7, and December 14, 2012. Council Unanimous Consent.

Citizens Requesting to Be Heard

(26:00) Cliff Moone -  Cliff spoke once again about the process that has been instituted in relation to allowing Citizens to be heard before votes are taken in relation to second readings,  Consent Agenda Items, and Departmental Reports.

At the end of the meeting Council voted affirmatively to form a subcommittee to formally put this process, allowing Citizens to be Heard before votes are taken, on the Agenda.


Newsletter about the City Council meeting of October 2, 2012 - Addendum on the CEG proposals -
Proposal introduced by the Mayor outside of the constructs of the agenda

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of November 20, 2012 - Cliff Moone addressed the issue of Citizens being allowed the question items on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. He discussed what occurred at the October 2, 2012 meeting.

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of December 4, 2012 -  Cliff Moone addresses the City Council about the Council's new policy odf making a motion to allow citizen's to address the City Council about items on the Agenda. Cliff and all members of the Citizens for Equity in Government feel that the Council is proverbially flying by the seat of their pants on this. Second they are not following proper protocol, because this is nowhere to be found on the Public Agenda, so technically it is a matter not on the Agenda and should by statute come at the end of the meeting after Citizens Requesting to Be Heard, which takes us back to square one. Hickory Inc. wants to say what's the big deal and we agree. Since it isn't a big deal, then formally put in on the agenda and quit with the ruse.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hickory City Council Meeting - December 18, 2012 - Video Presentation

The Following is a video presentation of the Hickory City Council meeting of December 18, 2012.



Two important presentations were made for the benefit of the Citizens of Hickory on this night. At the 7:00 mark, James Davis makes the following presentation to the City Council:

Council members, I appreciate you allowing me to address items of concern on the Agenda that you are set to vote upon. I am asking that the Budget Ordinance Amendment Item Number 2 be removed from the Consent Agenda for further discussion, because it does not fit with the Parking Fund Ordinance created by a Previous Council and City Administration.

Allow me to read the ordinance to you that was passed out to you.



It is my belief, and that of the Citizens for Equity in Government, that this was the issue with the tent constructed last year on Union Square. It had nothing to do with parking. So, you broke the law that you have sworn to uphold.

As section one states, this money is set aside for funding future parking facility Capital project needs. This fund was created to increase Parking Capacity and address its issues, not for the security purposes of Union Square businesses. Let's be honest these cameras have a lot more to do with securing Union Square's private business interests, than securing the parking lots associated with Union Square.

The businesses on Union Square should address their own security issues like every other private business in other areas of the city have to do. We understand the desire for security, but if Union Square businesses want to collectively improve their security, then should they not be doing this through the Downtown Development Association? Wasn't that what that entity was created for?

Now y'all can go on and unanimously do what you intended to do all along, but thank you for allowing us to go on the record about the continued misappropriation of this fund.

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The next presentation was made towards the end of the meeting during Citizens Requesting to be Heard by Cliff Moone at the 26:00 mark.

Cliff spoke once again about the process that has been instituted in relation to allowing Citizens to be heard before votes are taken in relation to second readings,  Consent Agenda Items, and Departmental Reports.

At the end of the meeting Council voted affirmatively to form a subcommittee to formally put this process, allowing Citizens to be Heard before votes are taken, on the Agenda.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- December 16, 2012

Sorry Protesters: Your Jobs Are Being Sent To China And They Aren't Coming Back - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael, - December 11th, 2012 - Did you see the huge crowds of protesters that flooded the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday?  They were there to protest two bills there were being considered by the state legislature that would limit the power of unions in the state.  Michigan lawmakers approved the bills and this absolutely infuriated the protesters.  There is a lot of passion on both sides of this debate, but I am afraid that both sides in this debate are missing the bigger picture.  If we keep shipping millions of our jobs to China, there isn't going to be work for anyone no matter how much power unions have or don't have.  During the month of October, the U.S. trade deficit increased to 42.2 billion dollars.  Our trade with China accounted for most of that deficit.  Our trade deficit with China in October increased to a new all-time one month record of 29.5 billion dollars.  Nearly 30 billion dollars that could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers went to China instead.  Since 1975, a total of about 8 trillion dollars that could have gone to U.S. businesses and U.S. workers went to the rest of the world instead.  Shiny new factories are going up all over China, and meanwhile our once great manufacturing cities are degenerating into desolate wastelands.  So what is going to happen when all of the good paying manufacturing jobs are gone?  Are we all going to fight bitterly over whether we should unionize the low paying jobs that remain at places such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds?  Such an approach is not going to bring back prosperity to America.  We desperately need to start building things and start creating real wealth inside this country once again.  We desperately need to stop sending tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth out of the country.  Unfortunately, I don't see anyone out there holding protests about our trade deficit.  Nobody really seems to care, so our economy will continue to bleed good jobs and the middle class will continue to be destroyed.
The funny thing is that the workers that are out there protesting these union bills actually voted for the politicians that are killing their jobs.  Both parties are married to the one world economic system and the "free trade" agenda, and Barack Obama has been one of the worst offenders.  He has been pushing for more "free trade agreements" throughout the past four years, and yet union workers continue to support him enthusiastically.                             How foolish can they possibly be?
Yeah, let's merge American workers into a global labor pool with workers in third world countries on the other side of the globe that work in absolutely nightmarish conditions for as little as 45 dollars a month.  That sounds like a great idea, doesn't it?                       Oh, but you don't want to work for 45 dollars a month?                        You don't even want to work for 450 dollars a month?                    Well, then the big corporations that fund politicians like Obama will just take your jobs and send them halfway around the planet.                       Do you think that your unions will save your jobs?
Michigan already has the highest rate of union membership in the Midwest.                  It also has the highest rate of unemployment in the Midwest.                      Over the past couple of decades, thousands of businesses in Michigan have either closed down or moved facilities overseas.                 Did the unions prevent any of that? No.                              If union bosses really wanted to do some good, they would be organizing protests against our incredibly foolish trade policies.                     But instead, they tell their members to vote for politicians like Obama and then they run out to the stores and fill their carts with huge piles of products that were made in China.                          Union workers need to wake up to one fundamental economic fact - in a one world economic system, the big corporations simply do not need you.  They can make their products in lots of other countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.                              But instead of getting upset about what is really killing their jobs, union workers in Michigan are screaming mad about a couple of new laws that will take some power away from the unions.                            That is kind of like being obsessed with a broken fingernail when your leg has just been sawed off and you are gushing blood all over the floor.                           Oh, but union workers did put on a good show up in Michigan.  The following is how a Bloomberg article described the protests...



We Are Witnessing The Death Of Small Business In America - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael - December 13th, 2012 - Historically, small businesses have been the primary engine of new job creation in the United States.  If the economy was getting healthy, we would expect to see the number of jobs at new businesses rise.  Instead, we are witnessing just the opposite.  We are told that the economy is supposed to be "recovering", but the number of "startup jobs" at new businesses has fallen for five years in a row.  According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data performed by economist Tim Kane, there were almost 12 startup jobs per 1000 Americans back in the year 2006.  By 2011, that figure had fallen to less than 8 startup jobs per 1000 Americans.  According to Kane, the number of jobs in the United States at businesses that are less than one year old has fallen from 4.1 million in 1994 to 2.5 million in 2010.  Overall, the number of "new entrepreneurs and business owners" has fallen by more than 50 percent as a percentage of the population since 1977.  The United States was once known as "the land of opportunity", but now that is fundamentally changing.  At this point we truly do have a "crisis of entrepreneurship" in this country, and that is a huge reason why America is in decline.  We are witnessing the slow death of the small business in America, and that is incredibly bad news for all of us.                   Unfortunately, the problems that small businesses are experiencing right now have been building up for decades.  The economic environment for small businesses in America has become incredibly toxic.  Sadly, we can see this in the numbers.  According to Kane, the following is how the decline in the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration...
Bush Sr.: 11.3        Clinton: 11.2         Bush Jr.: 10.8         Obama: 7.8
Obviously, we are headed very much in the wrong direction.  Kane speculates about why this may be happening in his paper...

Even as we witness the death of the small business in America, corporations are absolutely thriving.  The following chart shows how corporate profits after tax have exploded to new record highs in recent years...




So has this been good for workers?  No, it has not translated into more jobs and higher wages.  In fact, wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP are now at an all-time low...



The Great Decoupling of the US Economy - Andrew McAfee's Blog - The Business Impact of IT - December 12, 2012 - The French call the thirty years after the war les trente glorieuses, reflecting the shared economic prosperity of the period. Well, we had a bit more than trente spectaculaires of our own.                            In the early 1980s the picture started to change for the average American worker. There were still a lot of jobs available, but they started to pay less well. Median household income became decoupled from the other three stats and grew more slowly than they did. By the time of the 2001 recession, median income was lagging behind pretty badly. If we’re going to stick with Gallic labeling, the years between 1982 and 2001 were the vingt troublantes.                                   By the end of 2011, things had become much worse in two ways. First, median household income was actually lower than it was a decade earlier. In fact, it was lower than at any point since 1996. And second, the American job creation engine was sputtering badly. Between 1981 and 2001 the economy generated plenty of low-paying jobs. After 2001, though, it wasn’t even generating enough of these, and employment growth started to lag badly behind GDP and productivity growth (on all three graphs here, GDP growth is charted on a separate axis because it grows more quickly than the other three). The last ten or so years have been les dix d├ęprimantes.



What’s going on? Why have the things that workers care about – jobs and wages – become decoupled from the the other things that  economy-watchers care about? So far, explanations for this unhappy phenomenon include tax and policy changes, and the effects of globalization and offshoring. These are clearly powerful forces, but there’s one other one: technological progress.                       I’ve been talking a lot about this latter force here and elsewhere, and it’s the subject of Race Against the Machine, a short e-book Erik Brynjolfsson and I wrote that came out a bit more than a year ago (we’re working on a full-length sequel now).                                 Our argument, in brief, is that digital technologies have been able to do routine work for a while now. This allows them to substitute for less-skilled and -educated workers, and puts a lot of downward pressure on the median wage. As computers and robots get more and more powerful while simultaneously getting cheaper and more widespread this phenomenon spreads, to the point where economically rational employers prefer buying more technology over hiring more workers. In other words, they prefer capital over labor. This preference affects both wages and job volumes. And the situation will only accelerate as robots and computers learn to do more and more, and to take over jobs that we currently think of not as ‘routine,’ but as requiring a lot of skill and/or education.                          As a result, I don’t see the four lines in the graphs above re-converging any time soon.


The food stamp economic recovery – Food stamps increase by over 600,000 in last month of data. GDP at record levels yet US employment is 4 million below start of recession. - My Budget 360 - There was a startling figure that came across my desk from the United States Department of Agriculture regarding food stamp usage in the SNAP program.  Food stamp usage has grown dramatically in the last decade even during the debt inspired boom times.  Yet the devil is always in the details as we reported with the unemployment rate really dropping because of the over 500,000 Americans simply dropping out of the labor force.  The food stamp figures are stunning because they show in the last two months food stamp usage has skyrocketed by over 1,000,000.  In the last month of data observation, food stamp usage increased by more than 600,000.  Keep in mind to qualify for food stamps you have to carefully demonstrate that you are earning very little and technically are classified as being in poverty.  So what does it say that our nation now has 47.7 million Americans on food stamps?                       Our Gross Domestic Product is now at record levels yet we are doing this with over 4 million workers less than in 2007.                 


The reason this is possible is that income inequality is simply growing more dramatically.  That is why on one side of the spectrum we see big financial institutions back to making big bets and earning big bonuses while in the last month of data, we added 600,000 more Americans to the food stamp system.  If you want to visualize how things have played out since the recession began here is an excellent chart:

        
These figures are important.  You might be asking how this occurring in a supposed recovery.  A large part of this growth is being juiced up by massive debt programs and pseudo-debt and money creation programs like QE3:


  


QE 4: Folks, This Ain't Normal - What You Need To Know About The Fed's Latest Move
Tyler Durden's picture - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - December 14, 2012 - Okay, the Fed's recent decision to boost its monetary stimulus (a.k.a. "money printing," "quantitative easing," or simply "QE") by another $45 billion a month to a combined $85 billion per month demonstrates an almost complete departure from what a normal person might consider sensible.                         To borrow a phrase from Joel Salatin: Folks, this ain't normal. To this I will add ...and it will end badly.                              If you had stopped me on the street a few years ago and asked me what I thought would have happened in the stock, bond, foreign currency, and commodity markets on the day the Fed announced an $85 billion per month thin-air money printing program directed at government bonds, I never would have predicted what has actually come to pass.                             I would have predicted soaring stock prices on the expectation that all this money would have to end up in the stock market eventually. I would have predicted the dollar to fall because who in their right mind would want to hold the currency of a country that is borrowing 46 cents (!) out of every dollar that it is spending while its central bank monetizes 100% of that craziness?                        Further, I would have expected additional strength in the government bond market, because $85 billion pretty much covers all of the expected new issuance going forward, plus many entities still need to buy U.S. bonds for a variety of fiduciary reasons. With little product for sale and lots of bids by various players, one of which – the Fed – has a magic printing press and is not just price insensitive but actually seeking to drive prices higher (and yields lower), that's a recipe for rising prices.                       Then I would have called for sharply rising commodity markets because nothing correlates quite so well with thin-air money printing as commodities.                       That's what should have happened. But it's not what we're seeing.                         Instead, stocks initially climbed but then closed red. Gold was mysteriously sold in the thinly-traded overnight markets and again right after the announcement in large, rapid HFT blocks that swamped the bids. U.S. Treasury bonds actually sold off on the news. The dollar hardly budged. Commodities were mixed across the board but more or less flat on the day, with the exception of the metals, and especially the precious metals, which were sold vigorously.                     The markets are now well and truly broken. Not because they don't conform to my predictions, but because they are no longer sending useful price signals. Instead, my hypothesis here is that the markets are now just a giant and rigged casino, where a relative handful of big firms and other tightly coupled players are gaming their orders to take advantage of this flood of money.                      When your central bank badly misprices money and then bids up everything related to bonds, nothing can be reasonably priced. Risk is mispriced; the few remaining investors (as distinct from speculators, which are now the majority) are forced to accept both poor yields and higher risk – so we know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.                         QE4 - So what exactly is this new thin-air money printing program all about? Well, unlike any prior Quantitative Easing (QE) announcement, this one was tied to a fuzzy and quirky government statistic: the unemployment rate...                             The odd thing here is that by tying their policy to the unemployment rate, we could be in for a very long wait for the stimulus to end.  The reason is that the unemployment rate has a couple of moving pieces, one being the number of people who are unemployed, and the second consisting of people who have given up looking for work, which is tracked in something called the 'participation rate.'                             As more people leave the labor force and the participation rate goes down, the unemployment rate goes down, too.  Somewhat confusingly, as more jobs are created, the unemployment rate goes down, too.  As you can see, these numbers work in opposition to each other because as more jobs become available, more people re-enter the work force.                            Before the crisis struck, the participation rate was around 66.5%. But now it sits at just 63.6%, meaning that, at roughly 1.4 million jobs for each percent, a bit more than 4 million jobs would have to be created just to absorb the folks who left the labor force but presumably would like to work again. As those 4 million folks come back to work, the unemployment rate will not budge at all.



Ron Paul's Farewell Speech to Congress 


 



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Bwahaha -- The Three Card Monte System

I have already personally responded about the issues with the Republican Party and it has been all over the Hound over the last four years. Harry makes legitimate points about how the Republican Party has voluntarily cornered itself by having single themed simplistic messages that don't address the needs of most of the American public. The Republican Party has not had a coherent message of ways to move forward and back towards prosperity for the working class. And the Republican Party has not displayed leadership towards the future and has chosen to follow the path of the entrenchment of the career politician, which goes against the grain of Conservative Principles set forth in the "Contract with America" nearly twenty years ago.

A friend sent me a message the other day that is right on:
LETTER to the EDITOR-- MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE

Let's look at what we have learned from this election:

Twenty-one of 22 incumbent senators were re-elected, and 353 of 373 incumbent members of the House were re-elected.

The American people have re-elected 94 percent of the incumbents who were running for re-election to an institution that has an approval rating of about 9 percent.

This indicates, as an electorate, we are a nation of idiots.

Now I have friends from across the spectrum. I talk to everyone and try to understand people and get them to understand where I am coming from. I don't believe in Redneck World Wrestling Politics. I believe in studying issues and finding compromise where I can and moving forward in a constructive manner where I have disgreements with others. Rednecks don't do this. They draw corners and have a P***ing match and think they are accomplishing something by seeing who can P*** further. Nothing substantial ever happens. I am sick of that and those A-holes need to be drawn and quartered.

And like another friend articulates about the Democrats. The Democrats talk about the Republicans and Bush and we are like yeah uh-huh and besides the debt, deficit, impinging on our liberties, and getting us involved in two wars that there are apparently no ends to, they increased the ethanol subsidies to take care of their buddies in the Midwest and this caused corn prices to nearly quadruple in the last decade, they went along with the deregulation of Wall Street and its marriage to Washington, and they worked to offshore our working class jobs through NAFTA and GATT and a hundred other Free For All Trade Agreements.

Now let's talk about Obama, who said he was going to end the wars, instead we are looking to be headed into Syria soon and Iran right after that and more troops die in Afghanistan virtually every day.. ohh and Pakistan. We look at the issues with Wall Street, which is full scale corruption; and which seems to be getting worse, not better. Who have charges been brought against, but they'll fry some poor guy that can't afford their taxes. We look at problems with running up our debt, which I will go into further in a second.

They say No. No. No. Obama all good... Repubwicans all bad. I say B* S*.

And then there is the talk about the Fiscal Cliff.

Folks we have already gone over the Fiscal Cliff long ago. We could have dealt with this 4 1/2 years ago, but no one wanted to. We had time to reform, but no one could see, because they are Economic Idiots. It was going to be painful then, but it will be exponentially worse now. The National Debt has gone up from $10 trillion to $16.4 trillion in the last four years. That is a 64% increase in four years. In 2004 it was $7.4 trillion, which means that over the 4 year span (2004-2008) the deficit went up   35%, which still is horrible, but you can see the acceleration can't you?

So if the National Debt only went up 35% over the next four years, then it would be (16.4 x 1.35) = $22.1 trillion in 2016. If it increased at the current pace, then it would be (16.4 x 1.64) = $26.9 trillion in 4 years. If it increased at the accelerated pace (1.35 to 1.64) = ^1.99% pace, then it would be (16.4 x 1.99) = $32.6 trillion at the end of 2016. That means that we are going headlong towards oblivion.

There won't be some cataclysmic moment. It is going to be like a boiling frog. Slowly, but surely the costs of necessities are going to accelerate. I have shown it to you here on the Hound. Look at the prices in the grocery store. Maybe you are ignorant enough to not notice the way that they have repackaged the products. Nip an ounce here and add some filler there, yep that's the new American Economic system. The Ponzi economy leading to the Great American Ripoff.

I am tired of the Three Card Monte system. Everyone expects the world to shake when this all goes down. The dinosaur media at every level is in bed with the Government Incorporated. They get you all worked up about whatever the talking point of the day is, while the bureaucracy slides around to pick your pocket.

Everyone is worried about their taxes going up or their benefits getting cut, when they can't seem to grasp that the purchasing power of their money is worth less or worthless.  $100 of goods today cost $74.44 in 2000...  $17.51 in 1971, when we went off the Gold Standard... and $4.28 in 1913, when the Federal Reserve was created. And this is when looking at it through the Governments cooked book calculations, the Consumer Price Index produced for the Bureau of Labor. Other Calculators, such as Shadow Stats, show the 1971 number to be $4.98 and the 2000 number to be $33.88.

Your Standard of Living isn't being destroyed because it is being taxed away or Big Daddy Government isn't giving you enough. Your Standard of Living is being destroyed by the Federal Reserve, because the President and the Congress don't want to make the hard choices and they have their priorities out of whack. The President even seems to think it best to have no debt limit at all and he  has chosen to let the banks be in charge of our money and the bank managers have naturally chosen to look out for their own self interests. The Federal Reserve is putting $40 billion dollars into the system every month by purchasing U.S. Treasury bonds, which allows the Treasury to create money. This money is injected into the banks through nearly ZERO % loans. The banks, now being Financial institutions instead of holding corporations, are going out and purchasing commodities through hedging and derivatives processes. Too many dollars chasing too few goods leads to (Supply and Demand) prices going up.

Your average politician doesn't feel guilty, because they don't understand this. They don't understand MONEY. They really only understand the money in their own bank account and they haven't a clue about yours, nor do they care... Can you vote yourself a raise? Are most of your meals subsidized or paid for? Is your healthcare paid for? Is your retirement set?  

I do appreciate the President and his Economic team taking the ideas that have been discussed here on the Hound. 90% of the people in my community don't understand the significance of this News Source. At least the politicos pay it some attention. I see you ;)

I can't take the credit for "The Race to the Bottom" term that I talked about in April 2010,  I heard Catherine Austin Fitts talking about it about 3 years ago; but the Hound was the first to coin the term  "Middle-Out Economics," introduced here when the President only wanted to talk about the bottom up. I have discussed this since the inception of the Hound. I only wish that his regime would be interested in substantive processes to bring the economy back to equilibrium. Right now there is a war against the Middle Class. It is one thing to talk about jobs. What are you going to do to bring the jobs back to America? What are you going to do to level the Labor Price Parity Dynamic?

The problem is the Middle Class is asleep and frankly I am tired of going to them and trying to wake them up. It is a lot easier to sit back and wait for them to fall and then they wake up on their own and study what has been going on like I had to six years ago. Those who choose to find a way out will join us. Those looking to be bailed out will join the Empire of Rot.



Catherine Austin Fitts interview about Fiscal Cliff at Minute 39