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Archive for June, 2010

Unfortunately..nothing funny about this:

The BP Deepwater Oil Spill – the Hurricane Season

If the U.S. is not already in the second downward leg of a double dip recession it will have a hard time avoid one if the BP spill site suffers a direct or even indirect Hurricane hit.

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Sitting around watching TV last night after a vigourous day of gardening (uprooting vicious plants and building stone retainer walls)… My back was sore and my hands dry and cracked and my mind wandered to where it often does… What if the power went out and there was no telling when, or IF, it would ever go back on? When you SERIOUSLY consider it and start running the scenario you should get that sinking feeling in your gut because, like me, you would realize that your woefully unprepared for such an event. Like everyone else your instinct would be to bolt to the supermarket and stock up…much like they do before hurricanes down South except most of us in more gentle climes(a fast shrinking category it would seem) have never beent through this experience and would no doubt find it quite harrowing.

On the bright side, the circumstances of regular, if not permanent power outages would probably be the dawn of a new era where you wouldn’t have to go to work and you have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to write that novel or make the music that you’ve always dreamed of… that is, when not tending to your chickens, milking the goat and getting your stores ready for the winter.

What is going on in the World Economy is straightforward and yet it is complicated for the truth behind it is that the collective “we” seriously thought “we” were clever enough to avoid a repeat of the 1930s depression. Well, apparently we are not. Much ink was spilt in the mid-90s about the benefits of Globalisation and how great theories of comparative advantage are and how countries should leverage their growth with debt and the off-shoring of cheap labour. What was also mentioned quite frequently, as an anectdote, was that the World had not seen this level of globalisation since BEFORE THE 1929 STOCK MARKET CRASH… And that a cause of that crash and the subsequent DEPRESSION, was the very globalisation that we have since reinstated and then some. So everyone involved knew the risks involved but economists, politicians and the business elite were confident that this time, it would be different. The lessons have been learned.

Read the headlines…then dig a little deeper. The mainstream media are quite literally about a month behind most of the political and financial blogs out there. To ignore the blogs is to choose the blissfulness of ignorance.

Recommended:

www.zerohedge.com
www.truthout.org
www.nakedcapitalism.com
www.counterpunch.org
www.marketoracle.co.uk
www.commondreams.org
www.baselinescenario.com
www.propublica.org

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The best summary I have found so far explaining that Great Depression 2.0 is well under way…

Trending Towards The Inflationary Economic Depression

By Bob Chapman

We believe an inflationary depression began in February of 2009, and little has changed. Since then factory output has increased, as have inventories and other outward signs, such as retail sales. We believe that one-year spurt is ending, unless a new stimulus program is put in place. This past week we saw a $78 billion addition to unemployment benefits and Larry Summers has said they need an additional $200 billion.

In order to keep the economy going sideways a total of another $800 billion will be needed. The Fed may have cut back the creation of money and credit to zero, but it is still dishing out trillions to domestic and foreign banks, which can only affect the domestic economy in a residual way. The key is real personal income. Including government programs it has fallen $500 billion over the past 16 months. In addition real unemployment remains at a high of 22-3/8%. That is U-6 less the birth/death ratio. This terrible dilemma is a first and is surprising in as much as government addition to income has gone past 18% for the first time ever. We expect that part of the reason for both situations is the perpetual drag of free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing, which has continued unabated.

There is no question that the $800 billion stimulus has come to an end. During the past 16 months $200 billion of that $800 billion has shown up in consumer spending. The rest has raced through the economy and the result is a budget deficit in the vicinity of $1.8 trillion.

Over the past several months we have seen a decreasing number of new unemployed, but last month those official figures rose. That to us was the signal that the growth in employment had ended as well as the mini-recovery. We will know better the situation when May’s figures are released. The small increase in non-farm payroll tells us our appraisal of offshoring and outsourcing is correct. We predicted the effects of offshoring and outsourcing in 1967, but, of course, no one was listening.

Small business’ contribution has been zero. Many of these businesses are failing and most cannot get loans. We expect that condition to persist indefinitely, which means job stability is nowhere to be seen in the immediate future. In spite of bogus government figures the economy is not growing and won’t grow. Unless the system is totally purged in a classic way there will never be any recovery.

Sooner or later the deflationary depression and purging will come. The economy is stagnant and that is with an $800 billion stimulus program and $2.3 trillion in spending by the Fed, some of which had to have entered the economy. Just think of where we would be without both additions. With stimulus, over the past year, we have only seen an average of 2.38% growth. This is certainly a very weak “recovery,” especially in view of the tremendous amount of money and credit injected into the economy.

As a result excessive spending is over. Over 70% of Americans expect to be savers and to lower their credit card balances; that is those who are still employed. We see consumers back at about 70% of GDP. Without stimulus we see much lower figures; with stimulus only 68% at best can be maintained.

Manufacturing is climbing yet employment in the sector is stagnant. That means people are working much harder to keep worker productivity at a very high abnormal level. This is all well and good, but who will buy the products produced? Exports did well through March, but we have to believe the much stronger dollar will make US exports at least 15% more expensive and those of the euro zone 15% less expensive. Exports make up 20% of GDP.

Even with auto and appliance incentives sales are still under the weather. We have also just seen an end to housing purchase incentives. All indications are we are headed toward a flaccid economy without major stimulus. Business will find out again how dangerous it is to listen to your government. The residential housing inventory is again going to build this time to a real three-year inventory overhang. We expect 20% lower prices over the next year. These are not the things recovery is made of.

As we look forward we see money supply plunge to the same levels of the 1930s. This is the same thing the Fed did between 1929 and 1933. We have zero interest rates, but they really only help the large borrowers and those with AAA ratings. In the first quarter $300 billion was removed from the economy, or a contraction of 9.6%. By the way that proves the upward move in gold and silver have not been the result of anticipated inflation, but by other factors, such as Europe’s problems. We cited the fall a year ago of European M3 and M4 like figures, and as usual, no one was listening. We, as you can see, have had the same result in the US. These reductions obviously were well coordinated. In addition, the assets of institutional money market funds have fallen at a 47% rate, the sharpest drop ever. Part of this Fed move is for banks to raise capital asset ratios as the Fed removes and overpays them for their toxic assets, which the taxpayer gets to pay for. That in part is why banks won’t lend to small and medium-sized companies, and this is why there cannot be a recovery. The banks, Wall Street, and insurance companies are selectively being bailed out, irrespective of the consequence to the US and European economies. Unfortunately, we are following the path of the “Great Depression.” That means gold and silver are being purchased in a flight to quality. Yes, we believe inflation is on the way in bigger numbers, but unless things change dramatically it won’t be long before that inflation is overcome and deflationary depression takes hold.

As you have seen the titans of banking and Wall Street savaged the market on 5/6, and again are in the process of doing so, to convince Congress not to audit the Fed and to give it tyrannical monopoly powers to run America. Congress is being threatened. They are being shown the power of the Fed and its owners, if they do not do what they are being paid to do. It shows you the power of Goldman Sachs, which controls 72% of all NYSE trades and can move the market at will by front running all orders and by restricting all credit into the system. Isn’t this what derivatives are all about? They totally control all markets and it has to end. That is why you have to unseat almost all the incumbents in Congress and the Senate and bring this monopoly to an end. The Working Group on Financial markets” has to be disbanded and “Executive Orders” have to be terminated. The “Imperial Presidency” has to end if we are to continue to have a democracy. How can you have markets recovering every time they fall, as if by magic? You cannot have manipulation of markets, as we have experienced in gold and silver since 1988. We wrote our first article on the subject in August 1988 in the “Bull & Bear,” which David still publishes. How can we continue to have SEC authorized rule breaking by allowing naked shorting?

How can we allow corporations to carry two sets of books and mark assets to model? What is wrong with American businessmen and our representatives? They allow this to go on supposedly for the better good, as they stuff their pockets with cash. Now they want to allow a Federal Reserve monopoly, what is wrong with these people? What has happened to our country? The Illuminists who run our country from behind the scenes do whatever they please and it has to stop. Our country has become the laughing stock of the world, as Europeans and Asians, as well as Latin Americans rush to buy gold and silver. They cannot get rid of dollars and euros fast enough. Obviously some people are waking up, but not more than 2% of Americans. In Wall Street and banking if you do not roll with the establishment you get destroyed. Look at what we have had to put up with for 50 years. Look at what happened to Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and countless others who you have never heard of. Most people on Wall Street know what is going on, but they won’t talk about it. They do not want to be ostracized or run out of business. We as well can assure you Wall Street and banking owns the SEC, CFTC and most of the House and Senate.

It was a year and one-half ago we told you that $800 billion in stimulus wasn’t enough. That is now proving to be the case. Get ready for another liquidity barrage, called quantitative easing. It will also mean real interest rates will rise again. The backbone of most all nations of the world is debt not gold, silver or a basket of commodities. Greece is being blamed, but all told, 19 nations are on the edge of bankruptcy. In fact, central banks in these countries are among the biggest speculators. In the euro zone countries cannot print money so they sell bonds in spite of the rules of the bailout. Many are having a hard time selling bonds. Thus other nations are secretly doing so.

There is talk of another Northern European currency backed by gold. If that happens the dollar will fall because it won’t be able to compete. Those in the southern tier will have to return to their own currencies and do as Argentina did ten years ago. Those long dollars do not get too comfortable. The corporatist fascist corrupt model will fail because it is already bankrupt, as will many other countries.

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I believe this is the first song I ever wrote entirely on my own..back in 1996!! The Canadian economy wasn’t doing so well, at least not in Montreal, and companies were laying people off like mad and I was doing a Bachelor’s in Commerce at Concordia. I fear that the “so many people are going to die” part is closer now then it was back then… Enjoy!

ADAM SMITH

Words and music by Paul Wyndale

Trip to far places to see the other side
Amazing creations to satisfy the mind
220CA535i
No need to worry so well diversified

Building and growing and going and going
So many people, people are going to die!

There’s no point in trying
The show must go on
Let the poor starve and play golf in Taiwan
Adam’s my friend cause he showed me the way
To live like a GOD
And throw all the money away

Building and growing and going and going
So many people, people are going to die!

There’s no point in trying
The show must go on
Let the poor starve and play golf in Taiwan
Adam’s my friend cause he showed me the way
To live like a GOD
And throw all the money away

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Reprinted without permission from http://www.ft.com

The Shallows
Review by Christopher Caldwell

Published: May 30 2010 21:16 | Last updated: May 30 2010 21:16

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, Norton, $26.99

The subtitle of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock ’n’ roll was corrupting the nation’s youth; or in the 1970s about how television was turning kids into idiots; or in the 1990s about the sociopathology of rap music. But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularisation of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science. Carr has lately found it harder to concentrate on the serious reading he used to love. He is taken aback by the number of smart people who no longer read books. He puts the blame on the mental habits we have all learnt on the internet.

As Carr reminds us, thinkers from Plato to Marshall McLuhan understood that our tools affect our thoughts. The invention of clocks changed our conception of time. Space has looked different since we invented the map. When failing vision forced Friedrich Nietzsche to take up typing instead of writing longhand, his prose style changed radically. Our tools and our skills change us because using them forms new connections in the brain. We have come to understand just how adaptable the brain is. Literate people’s brains look different from those of the illiterate. Scans taken in the 1990s showed that the typical London cab driver – who must acquire and retain “the knowledge” of all the streets in his enormous city – has a dramatically enlarged posterior hippocampus (the part of the brain where such information is stored and used).

This “plasticity”, as neurologists call it, sounds like good news. Discovering the right stimulus or tool might open up some new “circuit” that will allow us to read foreign languages more easily or learn calculus. But changes in our brains can just as easily shunt neurological traffic towards worthless things: an addiction, for instance, or an idiotic video game.

That is more or less what is happening, according to Carr. Books, he says , “are in their cultural twilight”. People spend 30 per cent of their leisure time online. In the early days of the internet, it was natural to think – or hope – that the hours required for this new pursuit would come out of television viewing. That did not happen. TV is holding steady. It is reading that is being pushed out. What is the neurological consequence? (more…)

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I did some May Two Four shopping last month. My wife and I are doing some fixes in the kitchen and we also have a lot of gardening and landscaping to attend to which required visits to Box Store Land.

I hadn’t been to Orleans, east of Ottawa, in something like 15 years. Last time through the Place d’Orleans shopping mall was just finishing up on it’s 4th or 5th expansion. Ah the 90s’…Back in the day the ever-expanding shopping mall was all the retail rage… But even then a new trend was slowly eating away at prime farmland on the peripheries of town: The Box Store Mall.

I believe we have the Swedes to blame for this phenomenon as IKEA was around way back when I was just a kid. They were the first to capitalize on the idea that if you kept the warehouse on a cheap peace of commercial property on the outskirts of town and simply opened the doors to the public you saved tons of money on rent and other trivial things like making the interior of your store pretty and maintaining a window front. Plus you could use all that extra farmland for the few thousand parking spots required by such a preposterously big store that is nowhere near public transit. As the idea spread genius real estate developers figured out that you could group two, three, heck why not 20 stores and spread them over a several hundred Acres. Once out there with their cars shoppers will think nothing of driving from one side of the outsized lot to the other as they move from store to store. Boy did they get it right.

Even though they have been around for a solid 15 years I am still overwhelmed by just HOW BIG these big box stores really are. And then I try and think of all the box stores that I’ve BEEN to in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton.. and then I extrapolate that on a continental level… and then I try to imagine in my mind’s eye the contents of everyone of these stores, worldwide, in one place. And I shutter. And don’t even get me started on packaging or the fact that all these products spread to the far corners of the World by sea and then by truck and rail… all so my wife and I can buy a decent outdoor table lamp for $25 at WalMart…

I got the greatest shock while pumping gas on the edge of one of these Box Store Mall Parking Lots. In front of me across the expanse of asphalt was the aforementioned Wal * Mart complete with it’s Texan Star separating the Wal and Mart, suspended up there in gigantic letters so as to be seen from 300 metres away as you pass by on the four lane express road to nowhere. Across the lot in the other direction: A Pet Smart. And then a Home Sense and then a Sony store… Their oversized letters and signs posted to the exterior of giant monolithic boxes. And a quick look around revealed the only places to eat in these giant Parking Box Mall Lots: Boston Pizza, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Tim Hortons or some other generic concept road house such as Casey’s or Jack Astor’s. And this is the case regardless of where you are anywhere in North America. It is the same in Rutland Vermont. It is the same in Cornwall Ontario. It is the same in Chicoutimi Quebec. The brands change somewhat from place to place but the overall feeling of uniformity and lack of civil engagement by these beacons of consumer culture is truly disheartening if not downright disorienting. And then it struck me: This is what Communism was supposed to be: Lack of choice, central planning and urban blight.

While I generally agree with the benefits of trade between countries based on the principles of comparative advantage, things have gone too far. We have allowed Corporations to destroy our communities in the name of cheaper goods. And while it is great to be able to fit one’s house with a bounty of reasonably well-made stuff at great prices….Is it worth the cost? And here’s the rub. I would like to be able to scream out with a resounding NO! But then I’m not so sure….

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I Know Kung-Fu

The Matrix is closer than you think…

From h+

Porting Digital Memory:
A feasibility analysis of neural interfaces and controllers

Disturbing yet strangely compelling….

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