Google Groups
Join To Get Blog Update Notices
Visit the Hickory Hound Group

Monday, June 30, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- June 29, 2014

The theme of this week's stories is DESTABILIZATION.

Report: Immigrant Job Growth Outstrips Natives – 5.7 Million Jobs Since 2000 - CNSNews - Penny Starr - June 27, 2014 - A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that legal and illegal immigrants had the greatest job growth since 2000, with 5.7 million jobs going to non-native working-age (16-65) people.                             “Although there has been some recovery from the Great Recession, fewer working-age natives held a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job rose 5.7 million above the 2000 level,” CIS announced.
The impetus for the report is S.744, sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and passed by the Senate.                            If Schumer-Rubio becomes law, according to Congressional Budget Office projections, the number of new legal immigrants allowed into the country will roughly double to 20 million over the next decade, adding to the 40 million immigrants (legal and illegal) already here.                               Rubio and Schumer said the law was needed to prevent “labor shortages” in the U.S.                              “With 58 million working-age natives not working, the Schumer-Rubio bill and similar House measures, which would substantially increase the number of foreign workers allowed in the country, seem entirely disconnected from the realities of the U.S. labor market,” Steven Camarota, co-author of the report and the Center's director of research, said in a statement.                             These statistics are particularly remarkable, the report states, given that native-born Americans account for two-thirds of the growth rate of the working-age population.                             CIS drew three conclusions from the data it studied and analyzed:
• The long-term decline in the employment for natives across age and education levels is a clear indication that there is no general labor shortage, a primary justification for the large increases in immigration (skilled and unskilled) in the Schumer-Rubio bill and similar House proposals.                      • The decline in work among the native-born over the last 14 years of high immigration is consistent with research showing that immigration reduces employment for natives.
• The trends since 2000 challenge the argument that immigration on balance increases job opportunities for natives. Over 17 million immigrants arrived in the country in the last 14 years, a time period in which native employment has deteriorated significantly.                        CIS describes its methodology for the report as follows:
“This analysis is based on the ‘household survey’ collected by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey, officially known as the Current Population Survey (CPS), is the nation’s primary source of information on the U.S. labor market.
“The CPS survey does not include those in institutions such as prisons. We concentrate in this analysis on the first quarter of each year 2000 to 2014 because comparing the same quarter over time controls for seasonality and the first quarter of 2014 is the most recent quarterly data available. We also emphasize the economic peaks in 2000 and 2007 as important points of comparison.
“We primarily focus on the share of working-age people holding a job, referred to by economists as the employment rate. The employment rate is a straightforward measure of who has a job and who does not. To a lesser extent we examine labor force participation, which is the share of people working or looking for work. Labor force participation and the employment rate are measures of labor force attachment that are less sensitive to the business cycle than the often-cited unemployment rate, which we also report.”

Stone Cold Proof That Government Economic Numbers Are Being Highly Manipulated - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - June 25th, 2014 - How in the world does the government expect us to trust the economic numbers that they give us anymore?  For a long time, many have suspected that they were being manipulated, and as you will see below we now have stone cold proof that this is indeed the case.  But first, let's talk about the revised GDP number for the first quarter of 2014 that was just released.  Initially, they told us that the U.S. economy only shrank by 0.1 percent in Q1.  Then that was revised down to a 1.0 percent contraction, and now we are being informed that the economy actually contracted by a whopping 2.9 percent during the first quarter.  So what are we actually supposed to believe?  Sometimes I almost get the feeling that government bureaucrats are just throwing darts at a dartboard in order to get these numbers.  Of course that is not actually true, but how do we know that we can actually trust the numbers that they give to us?
Over at, John Williams publishes alternative economic statistics that he believes are much more realistic than the government numbers.  According to his figures, the U.S. economy has actually been continually contracting since 2005.  That would mean that we have been in a recession for the last nine years.                           Could it be possible that he is right and the bureaucrats in Washington D.C. are wrong?                    Before you answer that question, read the rest of this article.
It just might change your thinking a bit.                         Another number that many have accused of being highly manipulated is the inflation rate.                      But we don't have to sit around and wonder if that figure is being manipulated.  The truth is that even those that work inside the Federal Reserve admit that it is being manipulated.                         As Robert Wenzel recently pointed out, Mike Bryan, a vice president and senior economist in the Atlanta Fed's research department, has been very open about the fact that the way inflation is calculated has been changed almost every month at times...

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts -  King World News - June 28, 2014 - Former US Treasury Official, Co-Founder of Reaganomics, Economist & Acclaimed Author - King World News Interview - June 28, 2014 - Listen to the Interview Here
(Brief Summary) - Dr. Roberts gets fully into the fraud of the reported Government Statistics. We are going to have a negative second quarter ( a technical recession). It was not due to cold weather, because that would be offset by energy use -- heating. QE has not revived the economy. The deflator used to deflate Nominal GDP is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) - Inflation. The CPI (Inflation) has been understated for a long time. Reporting higher inflation means a lower GDP number. A reliable measure shows the current GDP is much lower than reported. The debt to GDP number is much higher. The consequences of this revenue means lower tax revenues and larger budget deficits and means the actual debt is rising more than has been reported. "An amazing crisis awaiting to happen.

Mr. King asks about the German Gold situation. The U.S. does not have the gold and Germany has to come to terms with this. Behind the scenes, the U.S. and Federal reserve have made a deal to get the Germans to stop asking for their gold. He goes further into the fraud involving naked shorts and how the Fed has manipulated Gold prices to protect the dollar.

Mr. King asks about Iraq? Problems created by artificial borders by the British and French in the Middle East. The United States has destroyed the secular governments that kept control. The new regimes are redrawing religious (Islamic) boundaries.

Gerald Celente - King World News - June 29, 2014 - Founder & Director, Publisher, the Trends Journal® - Gerald Celente will show you the future. Forecasting trends since 1980, Mr. Celente, Founder & Director of the Trends Research Institute, is author of the highly acclaimed and best selling books, Trend Tracking and Trends 2000 (Warner Books) and publisher of the Trends Journal®. - Listen to the Interview Here
(Brief Summary) - GDP revision downward... it was the worst winter of Celente's life... he does believe it was bad weather to a certain extent, but not to the extent reported. Fed's downgrading the second quarter. Consumer spending is flat. Very weak numbers. Growth at slowest pace in five years. Greatest revision in GDP since 1976. James Bullard of the Fed says expect a rise in interest rates. They are average person of their future with these artificially low interest rates (QE)... Benefitting the people lying about the statistics. Mergers and Acquisitions are at all time highs comparable to 2007, before the crash. We have seen an interest rate recovery.

Chinese Gold missing... Real story is the paper squeeze coming comparable to 1968 and 1971 when Nixon was forced to take us off the dollar. No way to cover the paper gold. When interest rates go up the economy will go down. China - the money flowing out of Hong Kong and into the International markets. There isn't any physical gold to make delivery with. The Central Banks know that the gold isn't there. There are a lot of investors in the market compared to back in the 1980 run up. The physical gold does not exist to cover all the paper on the market.

Something will happen to take/keep people's minds off of this. All things are connected. Tension will not defuse in Ukraine, Iraq... Destabilization. Perfect recipe for economic panic and war.

Food prices + gas prices = Stressed consumers - CNBC - Jackie DeAngelis and Max Gorden - June 27, 2014 - At the grocery store, meat, dairy and fruit prices are all up substantially. People are even paying more for lattes at their local coffee shops. And it's not just food—gas prices have jumped sharply on geopolitical unrest, and at the moment there's no relief in sight.                         As demand for beef, poultry and pork increases globally, prices have risen nearly 4 percent since February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The futures market has reflected the strong demand, as live cattle futures are up more than 11 percent in the last month alone, while lean hogs have seen a 10 percent spike in the same time period...                           Beef and pork supplies—the latter especially—have been hit by disease, and alternatives have been unable to fill the gap.                   
It's even trickling down the filter to that cup of morning Joe. Starbucks raised its prices on coffee drinks this week by between 5 and 20 cents, while prices of its packaged coffee at the grocery store will increase by $1. The fast-coffee chain passed on its higher costs to consumers after coffee futures spiked more than 60 percent year-to-date.                           If it's not tough enough at the grocery store, there's also plenty of pain at the pump. The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is now up to $3.68, according to AAA. That's up 14 cents from the same time a year ago, a jump of roughly 4 percent.                      Retail gas prices are rising as crude oil prices rise due to tensions in global hot spots like Russia, Ukraine and Iraq. Brent crude, the international benchmark, has risen almost 6 percent in the last three months, while West Texas Intermediate, the domestic product, is up about 5 percent in the same period...                      Traders are cautiously reading the headlines out of the Middle East, and crude prices have dipped slightly the last few days, but the real concern is that a supply disruption out of Iraq will send prices sharply higher...                        But in a struggling economy, every penny counts. Deutsche Bank says that every 1 cent increase in retail gas prices represents an additional $1 billion in energy consumption. The fear is that at a certain point, consumers will not be able to absorb the additional cost, and will spend less elsewhere in the economy.                           To make matters worse, there is a link between fuel prices and food...

Corporate Empire Created Failed Global Economic System-John Perkins - USA Watchdog - Greg Hunter - June 23, 2014 - John Perkins, best-selling author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” says corporations, not governments, run the world.  Perkins explains, “We are in a world situation unlike anybody has ever known before.  We have a global corporate empire.  It’s a corporate empire and not a United States empire.  It’s the first time in history it’s really not a national empire.  It’s the corporatocracy, the heads of corporations, which control everything in the world.  This is not a conspiracy theory.  The corporations don’t get together and confer with each other secretly, but they are all driven by one motive, which is to maximize profits regardless of the social and environmental costs.  Let’s face it, the economy of China, the economy of Russia and the economy of the United States is very dependent on these big corporations.  China has done a lot to create its own economic growth, but it could not have happened without the big multinationals.  So, they play an incredibly important roll today; and, in fact, this has created a failed global economic system.  Just one statistic that is really telling is less than 5% of us live in the United States and we consume almost 30% of the world’s resources, while half the world is starving or on the verge of starvation.  That is not a model.  China can’t do that.  Russia can’t do that.  Africa can’t do that.  You can’t repeat that, but they are trying to repeat it . . . but they can’t.”...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Economic Relevance - I've been Right and what do I get for it?

GDP decline - The Economy shrunk by 2.9% 
U.S. Economy Shrinks by Most in Five Years - Final Revision for First-Quarter GDP Shows 2.9% Contraction - Wall Street Journal - Jonathan House

Hound Notes: 2 months ago they said it was .1% growth, a month ago it was revised to down 1%, and today they revised the first quarter number down 2.9%. We are in a techincal recession that is truly a Depression. We never recovered from the 2007 bust. The only growth has come from money printing. The people at the top of the food chain received that money

Consumer Spending trending downward
Consumer Spending Fell Well Short of Expectations in May - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS through the New York Times - JUNE 26, 2014 - American consumers increased their spending only modestly in May, a disappointment to economists who said the weaker-than-expected gain would most likely mean a lesser economic rebound in the April-June quarter than many had envisioned.                              Spending rose just 0.2 percent last month after no gain in April, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. The two months followed a robust spending surge of 0.8 percent in March.                            Income rose a solid 0.4 percent in May after a 0.3 percent increase in April.                              Last month’s 0.2 percent gain in spending was just half the increase that analysts had been expecting.                       Some said that unless June brought a big increase, spending may not provide as much support to the economy in the second half of the year as they had been forecasting.

False (Interest Rate) Recovery
Interest Rates are set to rise - Bullard Predicts Fed Rate Increase in First Quarter of 2015 - Bloomberg - Steve Matthews and Jeff Kearns - Jun 26, 2014 -Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicted the central bank will raise interest rates starting in the first quarter of 2015, sooner than most of his colleagues think, as unemployment falls and inflation quickens.                                Asked about his forecast for the timing of the first interest-rate increase since 2006, he said: “I’ve left mine at the end of the first quarter of next year.”                     “The Fed (FDTR) is closer to its goal than many people appreciate,” Bullard said today in an interview with Fox Business Network. “We’re really pretty close to normal.”                          The Federal Open Market Committee is debating how long to keep the benchmark interest rate near zero after completing a bond-purchase program that’s set to end late this year. The committee repeated on June 18 that it expects the rate to remain near zero for a “considerable time” after the purchases end.                                 U.S. stocks fell after a report showed consumer spending grew less than forecast and extended declines following Bullard’s comments. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 0.4 percent to 1,951.10 at 11:41 a.m. in New York. The 10-year Treasury yield fell four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, to 2.52 percent.                              Mergers and Acquisitions are ar heights not seen since the 2007 crash

Home ownership trending down 
Obstacles abound for first-time homebuyers - Herald Tribune (Sarasota , Florida) - Josh Salman - June 16, 2014 - First-time buyers have accounted for fewer home purchases this year than any other time since the depth of the Great Recession in 2008, the result of new mortgage regulations that make it tougher for borrowers to qualify, higher home prices and swelling student-loan debt.                              If sustained, some analysts fear the decline could hamper so-called “move-up” buyers for decades to come and stymie the long-term health of the region's housing market.                         “A first-time homebuyer could have purchased a $100,000 home a few years ago," said Mickey Schweitzer, a 14-year Coldwell Banker veteran who specializes in first-time buyers. “Today that same house is $150,000, and they don't qualify for the loan. On top of that, there's a bunch of cash offers they have to compete with.”

U.S. citizens are in sad shape
Obesity Is Undercounted in Children, Study Finds - Common measure may miss up to 25% of young people - Wall Street Journal - June 23, 2014 - Childhood obesity might be a bigger problem than we thought. A new study finds that the commonly used body-mass-index measure may fail to identify as many as 25% of children, age 4 to 18 years, who have excess body fat. The meta-analysis, scheduled for publication online in the journal Pediatric Obesity on Tuesday, reviewed 37 separate studies involving a combined 53,521 participants.                                          "BMI is not capturing everybody who needs to be labeled as obese," said Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, director of preventive cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who headed the study with Asma Javed, a pediatric endocrinology fellow.                         Measuring body-mass index is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to screen for obesity among large groups of people, such as children in a school setting. A problem is that BMI, a calculation based on a person's height and weight, isn't well suited to children because their height and weight don't proportionally increase as they grow, said Ruth Loos, a professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who wasn't involved with the Mayo study.

Shocking Facts Behind Obesity - Huffington Post - - From the CDC, the term obesity is a label for a range of weight that is greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The World Health Organization's definition for obesity is a medical condition in which abnormal or excessive fat accumulation has occurred to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health. Regardless of the source, all reputable definitions of obesity include the warning that it can lead to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems.
Unfortunately, many people who are labeled obese, especially outside of a medical setting, develop a negative experience of self. This is partly due to the way that modern society has twisted the definition of obesity. People often associate the term with personal traits such as being lazy, sloppy, unintelligent, and none of these terms are, of course, in the medical definition. They are also completely unfair and unjust assumptions that lead to a diminished experience of self for those to whom the label is applied. I think that is why, in the graphic below, which was compiled from survey data, up to one-third of the respondents could not identify the first two test examples as obese, and why 10 percent of people who meet the medical definition of obese do not consider themselves to be.
 Center for Disease Control - On Obesity

Economic Relevance - the Middle Class Squeeze - May 30, 2014

Economic Relevance - Retail Deathtrap -  May 27, 2014

Economic Relevance - Inflation in commodities + Deflation in property = the Great Reset - May 23, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Mayor and Council's record on economic development. - Harry Hipps

The Mayor and Council's record on economic development. - authored by Harry Hipps - June 25, 2014

If you were going to invest $40,000,000 would you not check out the fund manager? If you were going to put 40 million into a business venture would you not want a proven, experienced manager for that business? Of course you would. And that is part of what the issue of the proposed bonds for Hickory is about. There are more issues of course and I will address those in succeeding posts.

The Mayor and Council have long touted their conservative, frugal management of Hickory’s finances. Now, apparently they are prepared to abandon that in favor of an Obama style stimulus plan. Leaving aside for now the merit and prospects for the success of the plan, which is designed for economic development, what has the past record of the Mayor and Council been? Bear in mind that Council votes almost in total lockstep with little dissent and as Alder Patton once said “We are all of one mind.”

Hickory was hit hard in 2000 by globalization which drastically shrunk the furniture, textile, and fiber optic businesses that had been long term pillars of the local economy. It wasn’t our fault and we weren’t the only city or area to experience this. We couldn’t control a large structural change like this, but we can control our response to it. Data provided by Thom in this blog in past articles showed that after that point when the national economy went up, Hickory went up less, and when the country turned down, Hickory declined farther. For about 7 years, Mayor Wright failed to comprehend the nature of the problem. Years of public statements like, “I think this will be Hickory’s year... Hickory is turning around... People tell me things are getting better...’’ Showed a total lack of awareness of what had happened to the economy. We lost years because of the lack of understanding, and having too much pride to admit we had a problem.

Then our local leadership decided that Hickory should become a retirement village. Despite the fact that the US is aging and locally we were destined to have more older folks anyway, the City actively pursued “active seniors” despite warnings from many that this was a losing strategy. God bless old folks, but medical care, cheap cost of living, and close proximity to the mountains and beaches has proven to be no panacea for us. I personally asked who would buy my house when I retire? A 75 year old person? We need younger people, working and raising families to have a vibrant community and now the Mayor and Council have flip flopped and belatedly come to the right conclusion after years of pursuing a failed strategy that has cost us time, momentum, and money.

Then came the assault on nightclubs and entertainment. Club owners came under the scrutiny and ire of the local government and ordinances were made more stringent. The Mayor even said on the radio that he didn’t want big clubs that would bring young people to Hickory from miles around. Only small local clubs would be tolerated. Why we wouldn’t want acts that come to Charlotte (like comedians such as Jon Lovitts, Damon Wayans and others as well as more popular musical acts) in Hickory is beyond me. But the strategy has worked, few big acts come here and our young people go to Charlotte in droves rather than stay here and spend their money here. And retail outlets and restaurants in Charlotte are getting a bigger share of Hickory’s younger dollars and eventually, why not just move and save the drive?

The Mayor and Council do not control everything but their misunderstanding, heavy handed management, and lack of understanding and vision is a big part of the problem. People want an open climate to pursue THEIR dreams and build the life THEY want, not be dictated to from above. Council’s actions and attitudes have really hurt the culture and driven people off. And I for one, do not believe that a few out of town trips have made them sages and seers of the future. Do you really believe a few sightseeing trips and discussions really taught them what made the other cities tick? I mean if someone spent a day in Hickory, looking around and talking to City leaders would they really know what makes Hickory Hickory? I doubt it. And I’m not willing to bet 40 million on it.

Finally I would note that, as Steve Ivester pointed out at a recent Council meeting, the Sails on the Square went 70% over budget (if we have accurate figures which is in doubt because City government has not been forthcoming on the actual expenses and has actually harassed people who would like to know). These, I assume, would be the same people that would be overseeing these "Inspiring Spaces" projects. Can you picture a 70% cost overrun on the sidewalk to downtown (linear park)? That project in particular is grossly overpriced for any perceived benefit as it is, but a 60 or 70 million final pricetag is a costly boondoggle we can’t afford.

The bottom line is this: the Council and Mayor’s past record on economic development and executing projects has been poor and now they are asking the voters to put faith and trust in their vision for the future, that these projects will be effectively done and will lead to economic revival. With the record they have on economic development, I wouldn’t bet the farm. There are solutions for Hickory, I don’t think a $40 million open-ended credit card is the right solution.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away

Hound Notes: Below is a link to a very good article that describes an epidemic of bad behavior amongst today's professional workforce. In my opinion it certainly describes behavior associated with the politicians and other leaders of the current generation. I believe that the mindset of many of our leaders today is having a deleterious effect and is a reason for the bad behavior of the workforce in general; It rolls downhill folks. 

I have dealt with some of these issues myself, we all do, but I have this site as my therapeutic form of expression. People can choose to be victims or they can be forces for action. Be empathetic, but don't allow others to define who you are or the action you choose to take... Be yourself.

I will provide the bullet points of what Ms. Caprino is describing, but essentially what she is describing can be defined, at a minimum, as a personality issue and carried through to an extreme can be defined as a form of Sociopathy.

6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them - LinkedIn - Kathy Caprino - June 20, 2014 -

1) Taking everything personally
- People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything that happens in life is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them. The reality is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their filters, and their perspectives, wounds and experiences.

2) Obsessing about negative thoughts - Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in negative thoughts is another. Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a skewed way of thinking and living, and you can change that.

3) Treating yourself like a victim - Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no influence on the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck and small.

4) Cruelty - lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes - One of the most toxic and damaging behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others... Cruelty, backstabbing, and ripping someone to shreds is toxic, and it hurts you as well as your target.

5)  Excessive reactivity - An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you. We all know these people – men and women who explode over the smallest hiccup or problem.

6) Needing constant validation - Finally, people who constantly strive for validation and self-esteem by obsessing about achieving outward measures of success, are exhausting to be around... Overly-attaching to how things have to look and be, and to achieving certain milestones and accomplishments rather than going with life in a more flexible, easy manner, can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down .

Monday, June 23, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- June 24, 2014

Hound Note: This thread relates to the U.S.'s Ponzi Economy and Market Schemes. The Washington Blog is a blog much like this site, but concentrates more on national and international issues. I learned years ago about the rigging in the stock market after investing is Wall Street stocks that were flushed like Global Crossing. Go check out what happened with Global Crossing. It went down after the tech bubble burst and 9/11. Cronyism associated government manipulation married to corporatism is what has led our economy off the cliff. There is plenty of lying going on and when you look at the articles below, you will see that they aren't doing anything to fix the real issues we face. They want to tax the middle class more, while constantly rewarding corruption, malfeasance, and incompetence.

Here’s What I Recommend in the Stock Market: Zip, Zero, Nada - Washington's Blog -  Charles Hugh Smith - I recently received an email from a reader suggesting I back up my opinions by publishing my own trading positions. The reader suggested that failure to put my money where my mouth is diminished the gravitas of the opinions published here.                  He suggested that if I really believed in The Generational Short: Banks, Wall Street, Housing and Luxury Retail Are Doomed, I should bet against these for however long it took the trend to manifest–decades if necessary.                         I understand the credibility value of putting my money where my mouth is: without some evidence that the writer is walking the walk, then we assume he/she is merely talking the talk or talking his book, i.e. supporting his positions publicly while he unloads the position in private.                     There are fundamental problems with publishing one’s trading positions as a gambit for credibility, and it’s worth delineating them because they reflect the inherent uncertainties of trading and prognostication.                           1. Markets do not trade on fundamentals. Though pundits and punters may refer to various fundamentals (price-earnings ratios, etc.) to justify their expectations of future stock prices, markets trade on emotions and the zeitgeist generated by Central Planning intervention, both publicly announced and secretly executed.
As a result, any analysis of fundamentals is for historical context only. Misguided attempts to predict what the market should do if fundamentals mattered rarely succeed, for the simple reason that fundamentals don’t matter. They are invoked after the fact to justify one trend or another.                  Here is a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). Did the fundamentals of the corporations that make up the DJIA fluctuate as wildly between 2000 and 2014 as the DJIA itself? The answer is no: what fluctuated wildly was the emotions of punters and the risk appetite set by Central Planning interventions.

After 6 Years of Unprecedented Central Planning, the Economy Is More Fragile Than Ever - Washington's Blog - Charles Hugh Smith - - We will all discover that the economy is much more fragile than advertised by the Central Planners and their media toadies.                       This week I have made the case that the past 13.5 years have been the most destructive to the core values of the nation in U.S. history. The same holds true for the economy, which has been critically weakened by 6 years of unprecedented Central Planning.                       What do I mean by Central Planning? Here are the key characteristics of Central Planning:
1. The central bank/state intervene in the economy in a dominant fashion, controlling functions such as interest rates by order of central authorities that were once set by decentralized, self-organizing markets.
2. The central bank/state pick winners and losers: for example, the Too Big To Fail Banks (TBTF) were selected to win, as the central bank/state bailed out their private losseswith public-taxpayer money. In effect, the central state/bank enrich cronies at the expense of everyone else.
3. The central bank/state manipulate the nominally “free” market to boost asset valuations as a way of enriching cronies who own most of the financial assets and as a public-relations charade to mask the failure of their picking winners and losers.
In other words, in centrally planned economies, markets are not allowed to discover price–they exist only to reflect positively on Central Planners.
4. The central bank/state use the power of the printing press to create as much money as they need to reward cronies and cram their decisions down the throat of the economy.
5. The central bank/state use the power of their public policy announcements to manipulate behavior and the financial markets while keeping programs that might attract scrutiny secret.

 Inflation? Only If You Look At Food, Water, Gas, Electricity And Everything Else - The Economnic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - June 19th, 2014 -  Have you noticed that prices are going up rapidly?  If so, you are certainly not alone.  But Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, the Obama administration and the mainstream media would have us believe that inflation is completely under control and exactly where it should be.  Perhaps if the highly manipulated numbers that they quote us were real, everything would be fine.  But of course the way that the inflation rate is calculated has been changed more than 20 times since the 1970s, and at this point it bears so little relation to reality that it is essentially meaningless.  Anyone that has to regularly pay for food, water, gas, electricity or anything else knows that inflation is too high.  In fact, if inflation was calculated the same way that it was back in 1980, the inflation rate would be close to 10 percent right now.                         But you would never know that listening to Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen.  In the video posted, you can listen to her telling the media that there is absolutely nothing to be concerned about...                         Just the other day, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the price index for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs has just soared to a new all-time high.                      This is something that I have repeatedly warned would happen.  Just check out this article and this article.                         And it isn't just meat prices that are going up.  One of the largest coffee producers in the entire world just announced that it is going to be raising coffee prices by 9 percent...               

Yellen forecasts a slow rise in interest rates - Bank votes to reduce economic stimulus again by cutting bond purchases - Marketwatch Wall Street Journal - Greg Robb - June 18, 2014 - Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen was more kitten than lion on Wednesday, sticking to her guns that the central bank can hold short-term interest rates steady until the middle of next year and then raise them gradually, and downplaying recent strong inflation readings.                        In its latest dot-plot forecast, the Fed did see a slightly faster pace of tightening in the cards. But the slight increase was overlooked by the market that focused more on Yellen’s remark that the recent inflation data was “noisy.”                         The S&P 500 index SPX +0.17%  jumped to a record close following Yellen’s remarks.                             In contrast to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, Yellen suggested the Fed is comfortable that it can hold rates steady for a considerable time after it ends its asset purchase program. Last week, Carney warned that the first interest-rate hike could come sooner than the market expected.                                    Economists said the latest Fed projections point to a first rate hike in June 2015. Short-term interest rates have been steady near zero since December 2008.

Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Continue to Climb -
Price Index for Meats, Poultry, Fish & Eggs Rockets to All-Time High - CNSNews - Ali Meyer - June 17, 2014 - The seasonally-adjusted price index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs hit an all-time high in May, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).                       In January 1967, when the BLS started tracking this measure, the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs was 38.1. As of last May, it was 234.572. By this January, it hit 240.006. By April, it hit 249.362. And, in May, it climbed to a record 252.832.

The Idea That Won’t Die: How Taxing Cars by the Mile is Back on the Agenda Again - The Blaze - Jun. 13, 2014 - The Congressional Budget Office released a report this week that once again raises the idea of taxing drivers based on how far they drive, in order to generate more revenue for federal highway programs.                                   CBO’s report said the spending obligations of the federal highway trust fund will be higher than available revenues starting in 2015. It said that reality will force Congress to choose whether to reduce highway spending, find new sources of money, or some combination of both.                                      One option for raising money, the report said, its to create a “mileage-based user fee to raise revenues.” The report seemed to defend this option, by saying it “could lead to more efficient use of the transportation system.”                            CBO has raised the issue a few times before as an option Congress should consider. Back in 2011, it released a report that used several pages to analyze how a “vehicle miles traveled,” or VMT system, might operate.                         According to that report, it’s a “consensus” view of transportation experts that a VMT system should be seen as a “leading alternative to fuel taxes as a source of funding for highways.” It said VMT taxes in other countries have been shown to reduce road traffic, since people choose to drive less in order to avoid higher taxes.                            CBO imagines collecting the tax by fitting each car with a device that tracks how far the car has gone. That data could be read electronically whenever someone uses a toll or stops at a service station for gas.                             While CBO admits there are some privacy issues involved, it suggested that the electronic devices would be used to generate information that is only collected by a private entity, not the government, for the purpose of calculating mileage taxes.

2 senators want to hike US gas tax for first time since 1993 - Reuters - June 18, 2014 - Two U.S. senators on Wednesday said they want to raise the federal gasoline and diesel tax by 12 cents a gallon to prevent a fund that pays for about half of the country's transportation projects from running out of money in August.                                 Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy called for raising the tax 6 cents a year for two years and linking future fuel tax increases to inflation.                                The gasoline tax is now 18.4 cents a gallon, and the diesel tax is 24.4 cents a gallon.                         The tax has not been increased since 1993, and hiking taxes is politically unpopular ahead of midterm elections in November.                       "I know raising the gas tax isn't an easy choice, but we're not elected to make easy decisions. We're elected to make the hard ones," said Connecticut's Murphy, in a statement.

The US Healthcare System: Most Expensive Yet Worst In The Developed World - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden June 22, 2014 - One month ago we showed that when it comes to the cost of basic (and not so basic) health insurance, the US is by far the most expensive country in the world and certainly among its "wealthy-nation"peers (in a world in which indebtedness is somehow equivalent to wealth), which in the context of the irreversible socialization of American healthcare, was in line with expectations.

Cronyism In The 21st Century - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - June 21, 2014 - Authored by Mark E. Jeftovic, CEO easyDNS Technologies; originally posted at, - ...So let's do something different here and accept a core premise of Capital, and say that wealth inequality is increasing, and that it's a bad thing. Where the point is completely missed is in what causes it (ostensibly "free market capitalism") and what to do about it (increase government control, induce more inflation and raise taxes).                            The point of this essay is to assert that it is not unchecked capital or runaway free markets that cause increasing wealth inequality, but rather that the underlying monetary system itself is hard-coded by an inner temple of ruling elites in a way which creates that inequality.

To paraphrase; "The American Standard of Living Will Decline" was stated by Obama in speeches, if you care to decipher, them on several occasions.  The American people were not listening at the time, or they were not capable or realizing what he said since he did not spell it out for them directly.    I heard what he said loud and clear. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

If nothing's changing, Who's not changing

We've heard this saying the last few months "If nothing changes, nothing changes." Frankly, it is a play off of what Harry has quoted (for years) from Mark Twain, "If you keep doing what you're doing; you're gonna get what you've got."

Remember the Mayor telling you back last September that we had turned the corner. Not but a few months later, we are being told about how bad the direction we are headed is. We are told that we have to do something to get the young people back in the area. 

Up in the right hand corner of this site is a link from back in 2009, five years ago, where issues involving Hickory were laid out - The Fixing Hickory Series. Anyone who claims that I, or others, have not offered constructive solutions just doesn't want to sanction what has been said on this site. Again, look in the upper right hand corner, from 2009, Time to put the Puzzle together.

Below are quotes from articles from five to nearly seven years ago that pointed to the Reality the Powers That Be in this community were finally forced to acknowledge.

Remember what they told you two years ago?



What happened my friend? 

An All-American City deserves first-class leadership - Hickory Daily Record - JT Shell - July 15, 2007
I personally would like to let the city council know that 99% of us don't care about downtown Hickory. Hickory is a suburban area that is well spread out. It is time to put less development money into downtown and start investing it in the neglected areas of northeast, southeast, and southwest Hickory.

If the people downtown want the area developed, then it is time that they 100% foot the bill like every other business does. So much money has been wasted on downtown. Guess what, 99% of us could care less about going downtown and you aren't going to change our minds. So as usual you have been throwing good money after bad.

Building the Bridge to Hickory’s Future  - (Submitted to the Hickory Daily Record on 7/23/2007) - Published Hickory Hound - JT Shell - August 28, 2008 -
The best and brightest young people in this area are going away to college and they aren't returning. They can't make the kind of money here that they can in cities that have better economies. Those left go straight to work out of high school.

The vast majority of these kids can't find good paying jobs in our present economic predicament. The factories here keep wages artificially low by hiring illegal immigrants and utilizing temp agencies. This may net them more profit now, but it will lead to a bleak future for our city. Without more successful twenty and thirty year olds, this city will die.

We cannot build this area on service jobs. We must have industry. We must build and create material goods. That brings money into this area and creates value.

Restaurants, bars, retail stores, and professional offices are nice; but they do not add value to our area. They are a luxury, because if people don't have the money to purchase these services, then they will not be successful. How many of these businesses have come and gone the last few years?

Too many people in Hickory want to put the cart before the horse. The bureaucratic commissions and agencies are fine and dandy if you are looking to line the pockets of bureaucrats, but do they create value? Seems they just make expensive suggestions. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand what our problem is.

What is the number one priority of this city right now? We need better jobs for the people of Hickory. If we work on developing a better job base, then people will make more money. More jobs in the area means more competition for labor means higher wages.

This will create a more dynamic economy that will feed off of itself. If people make more money, then they will spend more. Businesses will prosper, property values will increase, and there will be increased revenue for our local government to improve Hickory.

 Hickory needs Real Transformation - JT Shell - June 11, 2009 
Once again we apparently can't find people to serve, why? Could it be that we have too many of these commissions? Could it be that the upper echelons of Hickory's leadership want to fully control the process and its outcome? Could it be that when they agree to their findings that the City Officials don't act on them and go off in their own direction of personal self interest? How many times have we seen exactly that happen before?

I have personally been flat out told that the reason people don't serve is because City Officials are not willing to listen. They basically want people to wrap their (the leadership's) views up in a neat little package, so that they can present them as "The People's Idea." When the leadership does not like the task force's findings, and then they take the ball and run in a different direction, then the participants feel disenfranchised and no longer want to participate in any city processes. That folks, is what has led to the ambivalence we find amongst the go-getters and movers and shakers in this community. Have you noticed that our developers are taking their monies and influence to the fringes of Hickory (Granite Falls, Conover, Claremont). Hmmm, I wonder why that has happened?

Our City is not an island. We are all interlinked today, and we have to deal with all kinds of issues just as we do on the national level. Hickory has formidable challenges. Our economy has been devastated structurally by the globalization of textiles and furniture. Telecom valley is on hold. We have challenges in education, the environment and the resources we have here, and many other things as well. Sadly, our City government has been slow to recognize the transformational times we are in and respond accordingly.

Citizen participation is scant. The politically connected still get the lion's share of the attention and resources. Our dreams and expectations are dimming and we have become like rabbits in a trap - not liking the trap, but scared to move out of it. For too long, many have wanted to ignore the situation and hope it gets better on its own. Some are scared they will get blamed. Many just want the State government to build a new economy for us or maybe Obama will throw us a bone. Where are the bold leaders like some of the ones in our past that took the initiative and built great companies with hard work and determination? Our ancestors and founding fathers would be shaking their heads.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 17, 2014

I began video recording the City Council in 2012, because of my desire that the City do it on their own as any modern 21st century community began doing long ago. I had people tell me that they couldn't make it to the meetings, but they would like to see what is going on. I was also told by some council members that my summaries did not truly reflect the record, so having a video/audio recording cannot be misinterpreted.

So below is the City Council meeting. With each agenda item, you can click on the links and it will take you to that specific point in the meeting. You can always drag the marker on the video display to the point in the broadcast that you are interested in seeing.

 Agenda about the City Council meeting of June 17, 2014

 Thoughts about the Hickory City Council meeting - June 17, 2014

Special Presentations
A. Proclamation for National HIV Testing Day to Linda H. Sheehan, Director of Education and  Outreach/ALFA
B. Presentation of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2013. This is the nineteenth consecutive year the City has received this recognition.
C.  Business Well Crafted Award to Abee Architect PA, Dallas Abee presented by Business Development Committee Member Alan Jackson

Persons Requesting to be Heard - (Both presentations presented previously in Thoughts)

Steve Ivester - (Per Hickory Inc. Council on two agenda items, the amendment to the Economic Development Agreement with MAB Acquisitions LLC, and the Bond Issue.

Larry Pope - (Per Hickory Inc.) Mr. Larry Pope, addressed Council on the Inspiring Spaces bond referendum. He  discussed his concerns for use of the City’s funds being raised and how City Council used those funds to support what close friends, family members, or others that have control over the Council want, and not what is in the best interest of all of the citizens in the City. He discussed the dilapidated buildings that should have been brought down that Council had promised to bring down for the betterment of communities, but yet those buildings are still standing. He referenced the Old Southern Desk Building. He stated that he had contacted the School of Government regarding Conflict of Interest. He discussed Alderman’s Lail relationship with the CEO of LandDesign, and also the relationship of someone related to Alderman Zagaroli that was part of the group that was formed to discuss and vote on Inspiring Spaces. He questioned how Council always came up with the money, for the things that they want, that they claim beautifies our City, but it only targets certain areas of our City. He discussed the expense of the Sails on the Square, and the use of the funds that were collected for sidewalk use. He stated that he had filed papers on a lawsuit against the City because of an injury on a sidewalk that was caused by a trashcan sitting in the middle of a walk on a one way street that was not removed when trash was picked up. He
Consent Agenda: Passed unanimously 

Informational Item
A. Report of Mayor Wright’s travel to Raleigh, North Carolina

B. Report of Alderman Zagaroli’s travel to Raleigh, North Carolina

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Resolution and Order for Petition of Stanford Place Associates, LLC to Close a Portion of the former Hickory North Crosstown Loop and 13th Street NE. 

New Business - Departmental Reports:
(All of the information below was presented by Warren Wood in a Contiguous format)
1. Bond Referendum
 a. (1) Approval of a Resolution Directing Publication of Notice of Intent to Apply to the Local Government Commission.
(2) Approval of a Resolution Authorizing the Staff to Apply to the Local Government Commission.
(3) Approval of a Resolution Making Certain Findings of Fact.

b. Approval of an Engagement Letter with Parker Poe as GO Bond Counsel.

c. Approval of an Agreement with First Southwest Finance to Provide Financial Advisory Services to the City of Hickory Related to GO Bond Process.

General Comments (Per Hickory Inc.)
Mayor Wright commented that we have a birthday today.
Alderwoman Patton commented that it is a big one.
Mayor Wright commented that it is a guy, that when he took this job had no gray hair. He has raised some teenagers during those years. Mr. Berry is turning 50 today. A cake with candles was presented to Mr. Berry.
Mr. Berry stated that ten years ago, on his birthday, he was attending a manager’s conference in Asheville when he received a phone call from Mayor Wright requesting that he meet with himself and Attorney Crone to discuss his employment with the City of Hickory. On his birthday, ten years ago, was definitely the highlight of his professional career at this point, having the opportunity to come to work with this City Council, and this great community.
Mayor Wright stated that he hopes with the approval of the bond referendum, will be the second highlight of Mr. Berry’s career, and then they will figure out what to do when he is 60. City Council, Staff and citizens sang Happy Birthday to Mr. Berry.
Mayor Wright advised Mr. Berry that he wanted him to do the same thing when he turns 60. He advised everyone that they could have a slice of cake.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thoughts about the Hickory City Council meeting - June 17, 2014

In the Chambers

Larry Pope speaks about Alderman Lail's Conflict of Interest - Brad Lail fiancee - CEO with Land Design. Larry ends up having a back and forth with the Mayor after he finishes and Alderman Lail makes a motion to call Larry Out of Order.

Now onto the bond referendum Departmental report. This has been a formality for a year. Same way of doing business that we have seen in the past. They will keep going to this well until stopped.


The Bond Referendum was in the cards long ago. Persons Requesting to be Heard is where the action occurred, because Hickory Inc. chose to make the Bond issue a Departmental Report and with a Departmental Report comes no public debate allowed. Steve Ivester and Larry Pope addressed the Council.

Steve Ivester addressed the City Council about the City's agreement with MAB Acquisitions:
V. Approval of an Amendment to the Economic Development Agreement with MAB Acquisitions, LLC for the Development of City Owned Property at Cloninger Mill Road and NC 127.

Mr. Ivester reiterated his point about the City not accepting the $900,000 offer for the property at Cloninger Mill and finding another place for MAB to locate the proposed Grocery Store. This occurred on March 21, 2014.

Ivester has participated in Innovate Catawba - Inspiring Communities. He watched the Staff's Bond Referendum presentations on Youtube. He stated that he does not represent any group, interest, or party; only himself. His concern is the integrity of process at City Hall.

While the Sails project is liked by many, others still have concerns with it, but all do not have to agree. ' The funds used were from parking fees meant for a parking deck on Union Square.' The Fund was treated as a slush fund. Project ran 73% over initial projections. Citizens never received accounting... led to unfair and unfortunate consequences.

High handed and irresponsible behavior casts doubt on city staff's ability to manage a project of this type. He likes many aspect of the Inspiring Spaces proposal. What was guessed to be a $90 million (later clarified $80 million) project has led to a $25 million bond referendum... someone is not shooting straight. City staff needs to show the ability to handle smaller projects first. He agrees with the proposed Industrial Pank, but wants to know more about whether it will be like Fairgrove Business Park or like Catawba Boulevard. He wants the Industrial Park put on the ballot, but to delay the other improvements until another cycle.

Larry Pope  spoke several meetings ago against the bond referendum. Many people in the city are against it. Thanked Mr. Ivester and has the same feelings about city using funds for things they weren't intended for and Council uses funds for things they have a vested interest... for things that the people who control this council want.

Mr. Pope said he had made a phone call to the North Carolina School of Government regarding conflicts of interest. Mr. Lail is engaged and getting married in November to one of the CEO's of Land Design. He (Mr. Lail) discussed and voted to approve that group to do the planning for Inspiring Spaces. Then at one of the meetings he found out that there is a person that holds the last name Zagaroli. He doesn't know if it is Council Member Zagaroli's daughter, daughter in-law, or wife that was a member of the committee formed to discuss and voted on Inspiring Spaces. They chose members (of the Inspiring Spaces Committee) to be a rubber stamp for what the City Council wanted and not what the overall community wanted. How is it that you can always come up with the money to do the things you want... that you claim beautifies our city, when you are only targeting certain areas of our city... just like you targeted Union Square with the Sails on the Square that we estimate you spent almost a million dollars on. You dipped into funds set aside for other projects...

$5 for city tags are not going for sidewalks... we have so many things that need to be cared for, but they don't get done unless they (Council) want them to get done. He spoke about a personal injury and a legal action he is currently taking.

Hound's Note: For those who haven't seen Larry Pope address the Council before, they may think he is being combative and he was to a certain extent. He always goes to the podium and attempts to conform to protocol and decorum.You saw twice in this Persons Requesting to be Heard segment, with both Pope and Ivester, where the Mayor waited until people left the podium to make comments regarding what these people had said. I have seen this a multitude of times over the years I have attended these meetings.

I think it is fine for the Mayor to do that, but if he is going to make comments, then he should expect the person he is addressing such comments towards to respond. The Mayor hides behind a comment about the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech), but a multitude of times I have seen comments and actions where he wants to control others speech. The Mayor refuses to answer questions when people take an adversarial position to the Hickory Inc. company line, so if he (or other council members) refuses to have a back and forth with concerned citizens, then they should remain mum when the person leaves the podium, unless he wants to allow the person he is directing the comment about/or towards to debate the matter further.

Steve Ivester's comments were on point when he talked about high handed and irresponsible behavior. As far as the current electoral system in Hickory, we have seen the patronage the Mayor said would come with the Ward system. We have seen that with Hickory's unique electoral system. 

There are definite Conflicts of Interest happening all over the place in Hickory. The Mayor shouldn't fuss about people utilizing the legal system against the city, when Hickory Inc. has two paid lawyers on staff and a bevy of taxpayer paid attorneys and consultants at their disposal that they stand behind and tiptoe and tap dance all over the United States and North Carolina Constitutions and Statutes with. Hickory Inc. never does more than the minimum prescribed by the law, but they expect the maximum from anyone who questions or takes an adversarial position to the company line. People fuss about the IRS, well I think Hickory Inc. must have stolen the playbook.

The Mayor says he and the Council aren't controlled by anyone. I can name names, but I won't. It isn't about those people. It is about people who don't seem to understand their responsibility and have chosen to act in their own personal interest over the good of the community. People fuss about Washington and Raleigh. It boils from the bottom folks.

Hound Quote: The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I know I'm not crazy, because I see the same thing over and over again and I expect the same result.

God's Gonna Cut You Down - Various

(Wikipedia) -  "God's Gonna Cut You Down", also known as "Run On" and "Run On for a Long Time", is a traditional folk song which has been recorded by numerous artists representing a variety of genres. The lyrics are a warning to sinners that no matter how hard they try, they will not avoid God's judgment.

God's Gonna Cut You Down - Johnny Cash

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Sooner or later God'll cut you down

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down

Well my goodness gracious let me tell you the news
My head's been wet with the midnight dew
I've been down on bended knee talkin' to the man from Galilee
He spoke to me in the voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of the angel's feet
He called my name and my heart stood still
When he said, "John go do My will!"

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Sooner or later God'll cut you down

Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin' in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What's done in the dark will be brought to the light

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Sooner or later God'll cut you down

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut you down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut you down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut you down

Monday, June 16, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- June 15, 2014

Good Riddance To Rep. Eric Cantor: Bagman For Wall Street And The War Party - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - June 13, 2014 - Its possible to describe Rep.Eric Cantor as a serial sell-out. But that would be giving an unprincipled politician driven by an unalloyed ambition to climb the greasy pole of Washington power too much credit. In truth, Cantor never campaigned for any recognizable principle; he merely maneuvered his way to the top of the House GOP hierarchy by following in the tawdry footsteps of modern GOP bagmen like Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt.                      One commentator had Cantor pegged right on the money, as it were, years ago. One the heels of the 2010 GOP landslide, it was evident that Cantor’s true ambition was to accumulate a massive war chest to further his own ambitions, not to seize on the tea party momentum to fundamentally reverse the tide of Big Government:
Hand-picked by Majority Whip Roy “Abramoff-R-Us” Blunt early in his tenure to be a deputy whip, sort of an official water-carrier, Cantor moved up swiftly through the ranks as a Blunt protégé, because he was cheerfully obedient when sitting in the room with Friends of Abramoff and because he was unusually good at the money. “He’s about the money,” one wag offers admiringly.
But he was never about conservative principles. Instead, Cantor is one of those post-Reagan Republicans who have managed to reduce conservative policy to such grandiose, content-free platitudes that there is never any danger that their stump speeches at home, or even on the floor of the House, will get in the way of doing Washington business as usual.                          There are certain litmus tests that cogently demonstrate the difference between platitude and principle—-and one of them pertains to the matter of crony capitalist subsidies and tax breaks for big business. On that score, I once heard Cantor give a stem-winder in behalf of free markets at a conference full of business and financial types who nodded, applauded and whooped it up. But that was just a pro forma sermon. The next day he was back in Washington making sure that the Ex-Im bank authorization was extended for another 3-years...

The Generational Short: Banks, Wall Street, Housing and Luxury Retail Are Doomed - Washington's Blog - Charles Hugh Smith If Gen-Y cannot afford to buy Boomers’ houses at bubble-level prices, then what will keep housing prices at these elevated levels?                       Mish recently posted excerpts of a Brookings Institution study on changing generational values: How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America. The gist of the report is that Gen-Y (Millennials) view money, prestige, adversarial confrontation and managerial methods differently from the Baby Boom and Gen-X generations, and that this set of values will change Corporate America, the economy and the culture as Boomers exit managerial positions and their peak earning/spending years.                     Though we have to be careful in characterizing tens of millions of individuals as all reflecting one set of generational values, the basic idea is simply one of context:people who grow up in a specific milieu are naturally prone to sharing broadly similar perceptions and values.                     The Brookings authors claim that Millennials do not favor the adversarial style of the Boomers (competition and confrontation as means of advancing one’s cause/position) nor do they place great value on luxury goods as evidence of exclusivity. They actively distrust/loathe the banking sector and are financially conservative, preferring cash to investing in Wall Street.                     Asked to choose their ideal (corporate/state) job, their choices reflect preferences for a mix of security, idealism and technology. The big flaw in this career questionnaire (as far as I can discern) is that it did not offer the alternatives of self-employment/ entrepreneurship. Anecdotally, it seems clear that there is a strong entrepreneurial drive in Gen-Y–for example, What I’ve learned in my first year as a college dropout.                     One factor the report did not address fully is real estate/housing, which depends on bank-issued debt (mortgages) and the belief that a lifetime of paying a mortgage will magically result in financial security, based on the greater fool notion that someone in the future will be willing to pay more for an asset that hasn’t changed either qualitatively or quantitatively (other than needing more maintenance as it ages). This raises two issues: if Gen-Y cannot afford to buy Boomers’ houses at bubble-level prices, then what will keep housing prices at these elevated levels? Answer: nothing.Without strong demand for housing at sky-high prices, valuations will drop to whatever level demand can support. That level can be far lower than conventional housing analysts believe possible because they are still extrapolating Baby Boomer preferences and earnings into a future which will be quite different from the housing bubble decades.                         The second issue is a question: how much of the Boomers’ housing wealth will trickle down to Gen-Y when they actually need housing, i.e. when they’re starting families?                              The answer may well be: very little. If Gen-Y is unwilling or unable to take on enormous mortgages to buy bubble-priced housing, we can project a housing market in which Boomers are unloading millions of primary homes as they seek to downsize/raise cash for retirement but there aren’t enough Gen-Y buyers willing or able to buy these millions of homes at bubble valuations.                           In this scenario, home prices must decline to align with Gen-Y’s salaries (i.e. their ability to qualify for huge mortgages) and their willingness to shoulder bank-based debt.

Millennials 'overwhelmed' by debt - CNN Money - Blake Ellis - June 11, 2014 - Four in 10 millennials say they are "overwhelmed" by their debt -- nearly double the number of baby boomers who feel that way, according to a Wells Fargo survey of more than 1,600 millennials between 22 and 33 years old, and 1,500 baby boomers between 49 and 59 years old.                     To try to get out from underneath it, 47% said they spend at least half of their monthly paychecks on paying off their debts. On average, respondents put the biggest chunk of their income toward paying credit card bills, followed by mortgage debt, student loan debt, auto debt and medical debt.                       But even as they struggle financially -- with more than half living paycheck to paycheck -- many are making sure to at least tuck a little money away for savings. More than half of respondents said they are currently saving for retirement. Of that group, 46% are saving between 1% and 5% of their income. Another 31% are saving between 6% and 10%, while 18% are saving more than 10%.                      "The silver lining of the recession that started over five years ago is that a majority of millennials get that saving is a necessity and even equate it with 'surviving' tough times," said Karen Wimbish, director of Retail Retirement at Wells Fargo.

19 Reasons Why You Can Laugh When Anyone Tells You That The Economy Is In Good Shape - The economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - June 10, 2014 - Have you heard the one about the “economic recovery” in the United States?  It’s quite funny, but it is not actually true.  Every day, the establishment media points to the fact that global stock markets have soared to unprecedented heights as evidence that the economy is improving.  But just because a bunch of wealthy people have gotten temporarily even richer on paper does not mean that the real economy is in good shape.  In fact, as you will see below, things just continue to get even tougher for the poor and the middle class.  Retail stores are closing at the fastest pace since the fall of Lehman Brothers, the rate of homeownership in this country is the lowest that it has been in 19 years, one out of every five families do not have a single member that is employed, and one out of every five children is living in poverty.  We are working harder, earning less and going into more debt.  With each passing day, the middle class gets a little bit smaller and the ranks of the poor get a little bit larger.  But at least the stock market is doing great, eh?                                If the U.S. economy really was doing well, government dependence would not be at epidemic levels.                              If the U.S. economy really was doing well, we wouldn’t have more than a million public school children that are homeless.                           If the U.S. economy really was doing well, the percentage of Americans that have a job would not be lower than it was when the last recession supposedly “ended”.                            Nobody that takes an honest look at the numbers can honestly say that the U.S. economy has recovered.  The following are 19 reasons why you can laugh when anyone tells you that the economy is in good shape…   

Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Continue to Climb - PR Newswire - Bankrate, Inc. - June 12, 2014 - Mortgage rates are on the rise again this week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate moving up to 4.34 percent, according to's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.34 discount and origination points.                             To see mortgage rates in your area, go to                      The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate inched up to 3.43 percent, while the larger jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 4.41 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were also higher this week, with the 5-year ARM rising to 3.37 percent, the 7-year ARM jumping to 3.58 percent.                        As 2013 came to a close, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 4.69 percent. At that time, a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,036.07. After drifting lower for much of the first five months of 2014, the average rate is now 4.32 percent, and the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $994.45, a savings of nearly $42 per month for anyone that waited.

US consumer sentiment slips in June - - June 13, 2014 - U.S. consumer sentiment fell in June as views by consumers with the lowest incomes soured, a survey released on Friday showed.                           The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary June reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 81.2, down from 81.9 the month before.                         It was below the median forecast of 83.0 among economists polled by Reuters.                "The change from May was too small to indicate a significant loss in sentiment," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.                        "The small month-to-month variations aside, the main finding from the recent surveys is that consumers have maintained their expectations at reasonably favorable levels for the past six months."                    The survey's barometer of current economic conditions rose to 95.4 from 94.5 and was below a forecast of 95.7.                            The survey's gauge of consumer expectations slipped to 72.2 from 73.7, and missed an expected 74.6.                  The survey's one-year inflation expectation was at 3.0 percent down from 3.3 percent, while the survey's five-to-10-year inflation outlook was at 2.9 percent compared with 2.8 percent...

RadioShack Is Collapsing - Business Insider - Rob Wile and Myles Udland - June 10, 2014 - RadioShack shares were down as much as 21% in premarket trading after the electronics retailer reported a wider than expected quarterly loss.                             The company posted a net loss of $98.3 million, or $0.97 a share. Analysts were looking for a loss of $0.52 per share.                        Revenue fell 13% from a year ago to $736.7 million and on a same-store basis, sales fell 14%, which the company said was driven by traffic declines and poor sales in its mobile business. Analysts were expecting revenue of $767.5 million.                         The electronics retailer said it ended the quarter with total liquidity of $423.7 million, including $61.8 million in cash and cash equivalents and $361.9 million available under a credit agreement.                       "Overall, our first quarter performance was challenged by an industry-wide decline in consumer electronics and a soft mobility market which impacted traffic trends throughout the quarter," chief executive Joseph Magnacca said in a statement.                             Magnacca added that the company has taken steps to cut costs, including lowering its corporate head count and reducing discretionary expenses.                     These charts show RadioShack's performance over the last year and the last decade.                   It's not pretty...

ObamaCare penalty to hit one million low-income Americans - Fox News - Washington Free Beacon - Elizabeth Harrington - June 10, 2014 - Roughly one million low-income Americans will pay a fine under ObamaCare, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).               The CBO estimated that four million people would pay the individual mandate penalty for not having health insurance by 2016 as a result of the president’s health care law, according to a report released last week,  “All told, CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] JCT estimate that about four million people will pay a penalty because they are uninsured in 2016 (a figure that includes uninsured dependents who have the penalty paid on their behalf),” the report said. “An estimated $4 billion will be collected from those who are uninsured in 2016, and, on average, an estimated $5 billion will be collected per year over the 2017–2024 period.”                               A chart accompanying the report revealed that 200,000 of those paying the penalty earn less than 100 percent of the poverty line. An additional 800,000 are considered low-income, earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level.                       President Barack Obama was once critical of an individual mandate precisely because of its effect on low-income Americans. During a primary debate against Hillary Clinton, then-candidate Obama criticized the idea of a mandate for imposing fines on people who could not afford health insurance.

140 Years Of Gold & Silver In 10 Minutes - Mike Maloney