Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hot Potatoes & Risk Transfers

"Bailouts for Ireland and Greece and speculation that Portugal and Spain may need aid are prompting investors to shun some of Europe’s highest-rated bonds. The cost of insuring German debt against default rose yesterday to the highest since May. The yield on 10-year French securities climbed to as much as 3.247 percent, the most in more than in six months, and the extra yield, or spread, investors demand to hold 10-year Belgian bonds instead of similar-maturity German bunds climbed to the most since at least 1993. More rescuing means a bigger bill for everyone and this partly explains the pressure on yields in some countries, including Germany,' said Elwin de Groot, a senior market economist at Rabobank Groep in Utrecht, Netherlands. 'Now we have the deal with Ireland, there’s speculation about whether we should rescue Portugal or even Spain after that. That’s creating an environment in which there’s going to be risk transfers.'"
Source: Bloomberg

"We are moving apart. Organizations like the European Union are in the process of "fragmenting". During an upward trending mass social mood, we make peace and sign peace treaties. We form cooperative organizations during these times and merge currencies. Now, the tide has shifted. Keep an eye on the EU. As Greece, Spain, and others continue to feel "the pain", their partners in the EU will continue to ask 'why are we being dragged down by them?'."

Random Roving, March 30, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Religious Bankruptcy

"Crystal Cathedral officials say their financial woes were brought on by the recession. More than 550 creditors are owed $50 to $100 million, according to bankruptcy documents filed last month.  But insiders and religious experts say the situation is more complicated, and stems from how to best preserve founder Robert H.'s legacy.  The Crystal Cathedral has been battered in recent years as attendance has declined along with donations. That has brought cuts that some believe have reduced the quality of the church's programming and productions.  At the same time, the church has been roiled by family discord that included the very public firing of Robert Anthony Schuller, who had long been seen as the founder's successor, and the ascension of Robert H.'s eldest daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, to the top job.  The church kept expanding, and the spectacular 10,000-pane Crystal Cathedral was dedicated in 1980. "The Glory of Christmas," an extravagant holiday production that attracted thousands, began in 1981. Soon after, the church added an Easter show.  The Christmas production would begin to signify a culture of extravagance within the church: More than a dozen angels in white chiffon flew overhead, professional singers replaced volunteers, and live camels and donkeys took the stage.  "You felt like you were sitting in the middle of a symphony orchestra," said Conwell S. Worthington, who directed the Christmas and Easter pageants from 1983 to 1986"
Source: LA Times

"Religion will become smaller, 'deeper', and more traditional. The megachurch and megamillionaire ministers might have seen "the peak". Hopefully they saved all of those millions from the book deals."
Random Roving, January 1, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Brazilian Onion

Brazil as a country has been doing extremely well the last few years.  It appears that not all people participated in that growth.  Remember the "peeling onion" theory?  "The weakest fall first with more to follow. The onion gets peeled back one layer of a time."

"Brazilian police in Rio de Janeiro say they have taken control of the Vila Cruzeiro slum after five days of violence that left at least 23 people dead.  Authorities say military armored vehicles carried the hundreds of officers into the slum, as gunmen fled into nearby shantytowns. Federal security forces are expected to move into the slum Friday.  Officials say 30 vehicles were burned in the violence leading up to the the police takeover. Brazil is trying to seize control of Rio's slums from drug gangs as it prepares to stage the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. As part of the crackdown, more than 150 people have been arrested in raids on Rio slums.  The city of 6 million has high crime and murder rates. Heavily armed drug trafficking gangs control many of Rio's poor areas, making the city among the most violent in Latin America."
Source: VOA News

Friday, November 26, 2010

Unthinkable. Really??

"Contagion spreads from Ireland to Portugal and then to Spain, forcing European leaders to exhaust the $1 trillion bailout fund they set up only half a year ago to defend their ambitious single currency project.  Sniping within the 16-nation euro zone mounts and popular support for the euro erodes as German taxpayers rebel against a series of costly rescues and austerity fatigue in the bloc's periphery reaches breaking point.  Eventually one or more countries decide enough is enough and break away or are forced out, reintroducing the national currencies they used before tying their fate to Europe's audacious economic and monetary union.  Unthinkable only a few weeks ago, a small but growing number of experts now believe some version of this nightmare scenario could become a reality for the euro zone if policymakers fail to unite behind a more forceful strategy for saving the euro and address investor concerns about fiscal and economic imbalances."
Source: Reuters

Unthinkable only a few weeks ago??  Really???

"We are moving apart. Organizations like the European Union are in the process of "fragmenting". During an upward trending mass social mood, we make peace and sign peace treaties. We form cooperative organizations during these times and merge currencies. Now, the tide has shifted. Keep an eye on the EU. As Greece, Spain, and others continue to feel "the pain", their partners in the EU will continue to ask "why are we being dragged down by them?"."
Random Roving, March 30, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Want My MTV - Part Deux

It was almost a year ago to the week that I made this post:
"College campuses appear to be heating up worldwide. First UCLA, now Iran. We have a generation of kids waking up to the reality that their parents have not only indebted them for life, but also destroyed their current job market and prospects. Kent State might end up looking like a mild one when this one peaks."

Random Roving, December 12, 2009, "I Want My MTV"

Those British kids are setting the pace for the millennials across the world.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Korean Games Continue

"26-year-old dictator-in-waiting has burnished his leadership credentials with a deadly artillery attack on South Korean territory, causing its neighbour to return fire and scramble F-16 fighters. Two South Korean marines died, and at least 12 were wounded. There were reports of civilian injuries and houses were set ablaze as scores of shells fell on Yeonpyeong island.  A North Korea expert at Beijing's Central Party School, Zhang Liangui, told the Herald that Kim Jong-un was deliberately destabilising the environment in order to mobilise the military and consolidate his power."
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

"Rekindle, reignite...it's all the same thing. My prediction on this one was that when the tide lowers, it's easy to pick a fight with an old foe. It usually takes a small spark."
Random Roving, March 8, 2009

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Stampeding Herd

Beware of the stampeding herd!

"Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian capital, leaving at least 349 dead and hundreds injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge. A panic-stricken crowd - celebrating the end of the rainy season on an island in a river - tried to flee over a bridge and many people were crushed underfoot or fell over its sides into the water. Disoriented victims struggled to find an escape hatch through the human mass, pushing their way in every direction. After the stampede, bodies were stacked upon bodies on the bridge as rescuers swarmed the area."SOURCE: The Washington Post

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Everybody Wake Up

Everybody wake up
If your living with your eyes closed
See the man with a bomb in his hand
Everybody wake up

Oh baby it's not easy sometimes
They build these walls ever higher and hide behind them
Seems an odd way to try and make things right
Oh I feel like I go crazy sometimes

Our finest hour arrives
See the pig dressed in his finest fine
The believers stand behind him and smile
As the day lights up with fire

Everybody wake up
If your living with your eyes closed
See the man with a bomb in his hand
Everybody wake up

I Remember the words of the misguided fool
Do unto others as you'd have them do
Not an eye for an eye is the golden rule
Just leaves a room full of blind men

And the finest hour arrives
See the pig dressed in his finest fine
Don't believe him leave and stand behind him and smile
As the day lights up with fire

Everybody wake up [etc]....

Everybody wake up
if your living with your eyes closed
see the man with a bomb in his hand
Everybody wake up

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Little Picadilly Circus

Those British students keep getting rowdy.

"Student activists have called for further mass civil disobedience targeting the coalition Government, following last week's occupation of the Conservative headquarters."

Source: SkyNews

"Protests and riots will continue to increase across the world. The mob is getting angrier and angrier. College campuses will continue to "heat up". The younger generation is awaking to the fact that their parents squandered their future. 'Mom and dad, thanks for the debt burden!'"
Random Roving, January 1, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Sailing

Just read this quote and really liked it.

“If you want to launch big ships, you must go where the water is deep.”
Conrad Hilton

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Criminals, Dynamite, and Heroin Injections

"Apparently the criminals who run these trading operations are willing to put it all on red that the Fed will never respond to the runaway in commodities and its stranguflation effects. My sense is that they have strapped dynamite to themselves and are daring the Fed to act. I don’t even pretend to know or even guess as the cluelessness of pumping up a stranguflationary hurricane, so the key is to focus on real economic effects, which are horrifically negative. That way I don’t really have to wait with baited breath for every Fed heroin injection into the patient or protestations from financial gangsters, I just know the patient is dying."

Russ Winter, Wall Street Examiner

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stealth Gold Bull Market

"Great bull markets are seen maybe once or twice in a lifetime. The current 'stealth' gold bull market has sneaked up on most Americans. The very phrase, 'gold bull market' is sneered at by most analysts today. In fact, most of the comments on gold today come in the form of warnings; 'Gold is too high.' 'Gold is in a bubble.' 'Gold will sink back below 1000.' 'Gold is a fool's play.'  Nonsense. Gold is moving ever-closer to it's climactic speculative third phase. The negative comments about gold will only serve to make the gold bull market that much stronger. In this business, there is nothing more powerful than a primary bull market that has been denigrated, spat at, and held back for years."
Richard Russell

Wonderful Thing

It's official.  The QE2 has left the port and so far she's sailing with a full passenger list. Captain Bernanke is at the helm!  Steward Obama is hoping that the passengers are hungry!

I had the pleasure of experiencing QE2 live last night as I was buying a car.  When I finally made it to the finance office to cut the check, the dealership employee was begging me to not pay cash.  "Mr. Barrell, do you realize how cheap credit is right now?  You'll never find cheaper money."  And I replied, "I know, but debt is not a good thing anymore."  He looked at me with great confusion.  The Kool Aid party resumes and many will be suckered in to adding more to their debt load.  Haven't we just decided to add "fuel to the fire"?  If your house is burning, you don't soak it in more kerosen do you?  The personal savings rate across the country has been on the rise, we'll see if this next round of "free money" doesn't drive it back to negative numbers.

"Wonderful thing, wireless, isn’t it?"
Captain Arthur Rostron, to Second Officer James Bisset, on the Titantic having told him the latest news on the known positions of icebergs. This was at around 10:00 p.m., April 14th, 1912.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Giving Up Power

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."
Alice Walker

Some Mary Kay Perspective

David Galland, the Managing Director at Casey Research, summed up the election as below. I wish my "cliff notes" from yesterday's post were as good.

Dear Readers,
One of the most memorable lines I’ve ever heard, I heard while standing in line at a kid’s store in a nearby town.  Even though short, the checkout line had ground to a halt thanks to an irate woman blocking further progress. “She said I could put it there!” she nearly shouted, her face red.  “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but she didn’t have authority to let you do that,” politely explained the man whom I recognized from previous visits as the proprietor of the well-run store.  “Well, then why did she say I could put it there!?!” she asked angrily, stabbing a finger accusingly at a blank space on the checkout counter.  “It was a mistake on her part,” the owner answered patiently. “This is a place of business – my business – and we can’t just let anyone who wants to put things on our checkout counter.”  Casting upon him a steely glare she growled, “Okay, fine! Then just give me my box back!”  With the line still stopped and his customers, me included, looking on, the shop’s owner rummaged around beneath the counter in search of the missing box. Thanks to continued muttering by the angry roadblock, it quickly became apparent that the box in question was meant to harvest business cards from anyone interested in a free makeover from Mary Kay cosmetics. It also became apparent that the box was nowhere to be found.  Even so, the steaming MK rep made it abundantly clear she wasn’t going anywhere until the handsomely decorated cardboard box was back in her hands.

“It’s my property, and I want it back!” she stated in no uncertain terms, giving no ground and entertaining no discussion on the topic, then reinforcing her wrath with a stream of invective while tapping her foot expectantly.  It was at this moment that the proprietor gave up the search for the lost box and, rising up to his full height behind the counter, delivered the memorable line.  “Stop!” he said, emphasizing the point by extending his hand and arm in the forceful manner associated with well-trained crossing guards.  Having halted the MK representative mid-insult, the proprietor delivered his coup des mots.  “Ma’am,” he said, cool as a cucumber, “With all the suffering and misfortune in this world today, do you think we could try to keep this matter in perspective?”

I’ve forgotten her exact response, but if memory serves it was along the lines of, “Huppity huppity uhnn.” With nothing more to say, she took an embarrassed glance at the unsupportive faces of the people she had been holding up, then slinked out of the store.  When it came my time to pay, I smiled widely at the store’s owner and thanked him profusely; for so succinctly saying what so desperately needed to be said… for the excellent entertainment… and for enhancing my spoken repertoire with a useful phrase to be henceforth trotted out whenever confronted by anyone making something out of nothing.

For example, in the context of yesterday’s elections, the punditry is all agog about the big changes to be ushered in by the Republicans regaining much of their lost political clout.  To which I might respond…“With all the suffering and misfortune in this world today, do you think we could try to keep this matter in perspective?”  Appropriate? I think so, and here’s why.  From a big-picture perspective, history clearly shows that in all the ways that actually matter – at least to those who care about personal freedoms and the fostering of a strong economy – it has hardly mattered a whit which of the two entrenched political parties are at the top of the leader board.  Sure, there have been fleeting periods of some small improvements in those key criteria – and these periods have come about during the reigns of both Democrats and Republicans – but it’s mostly been a one-way street toward more government, and the attendant costs of that shift.  On that point alone, one is entitled to be skeptical about any real change coming to pass.  That’s the big picture.

Grinding down a level to the present time, however, we note that the Republican resurgence is largely being attributed to voter concerns over the damaged economy and out-of-control government spending – concerns, you know, we share.  One poll reported that fully nine out of ten people exiting the voting booth said that they thought the economy was in bad shape.  So, now we have the House of Representatives solidly in the Republican camp, and the Senate divided by a razor-thin margin. The big house, of course, is still occupied by Obama. But other than the power of the presidential veto – a double-edged political sword should any of the Republicans’ cut-the-government initiatives actually make it through the Senate – the man is now largely isolated and irrelevant.  No question about it: the real fireworks will be happening in Congress. While we can’t know everything that’s going to be proposed, it’s safe to say that – given the Republican surge – the legislative agenda will be replete with initiatives aimed at undoing some of the worst damage inflicted over the last few years.  And that’s where things get interesting, but maybe not in the way you’d expect. I’ll tell you why in a moment, but first a bit more spade work is required.

While we can’t yet know all the new legislation that will be pushed forward by the reinvigorated Republicans – or drooping Democrats, for that matter – it’s a fairly safe bet that most such legislation won’t make it all the way through the briar patch in order to become law. That’s what gridlock is all about.  That said, rightly fearing for their own fates in the 2012 elections, some Democrats may be tempted to jump the aisle and support the Republicans in passing government-rollback legislation over the next year… legislation that even Obama might be reluctant to veto.

Huzzah, some dear readers might be thinking. Not so fast…The problem with the coming episode of gridlock goes back to the fact that the nine out of ten people mentioned in the poll were right – the economy’s a mess.  Over the last year, the only thing that has kept it from getting downright dire has been the government’s unhesitant intervention… its unleashing trillions of dollars of new money into the economy and supporting failed institutions with trillions more by buying up toxic mortgages, offering purchase incentives, suppressing interest rates, offering tax credits, and so forth.

The entire article:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Under The Radar

It looks like there are some really happy folks today and some sad ones.  The see-saw tilted back in the other direction as predicted. Meg's $141 million just wasn't enough.  Imagine if she started the Meg Whitman Foundation instead with the $141 million?  What a legacy that could have left.  It's ironic that she probably lost due to the fact that her nanny was not a legal citizen.  Fortunately, Fiorina only spent $6.5 million of her own money in her defeat.

Who would have thought that the witch would lose?  Rand Paul proved that a Libertarian disguised as a Republican can get some votes.  Reid squeaked one out.  S. Carolina shocked us all by electing a female of Indian descent. That's a first time for both in that state.

I'll just repeat my comments from November 8, 2008.  Just replace Democrats with Republicans.
"On the flip side, I say to my Democrat friends 'be careful what you wish for'. The Democrats have complete control over the near future. For that, they will be given complete credit for 100% of what happens."
Random Roving, November 8, 2008

Of course, no one has 100% control now.  That's what will make the next two years so interesting.  It will be "finger pointing madness".  Can you hear it already, "if we controlled the House and Senate, then......" or "if we controlled the House and the Presidency then....." or "if you wouldn't have...., then......".  The foundation is now laid for the chaos of 2012.

As the post-election hoopla and Sheeple grazing continues, the Federal Reserve today is making their decision on the next "cruise ship", the QE2.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day Thoughts

This might be the most interesting election since 2008.  It will be the most interesting mid-term election in some time.  The mob will ascend on the voting booths in record numbers I think.  I voted early last week to avoid the frenzy.  As I stood in front of the voting machine I thought, "do I just vote Libertarian with one quick click or click it one by one?".  I still claim to not belong to any party, but my presidential vote for Ron Paul in 2008 still looks like the best one. So I kept my direction consistent.

As I predicted for 2008, "change" will be the main theme.  Not the "change" that political posters speak to, but change of the people in power.  The mob is angrier than ever so they'll try to throw out as many incumbents as possible.  The Tea Party is still just a light version of what is to come.  It's almost comical at this stage.  The funny part is that the Republicans will "pound their chest" in victory only to be ousted the next time.  It will be a viscious cycle for some time.

Doesn't the fact below indicate that something is seriously wrong with our system?  $140 million??  Just think what some charities could do with $140 million?

"Republican Meg Whitman has spent more than $140 million so far on her campaign for California governor, nearly $40 million of it during the last three months, she reported Tuesday.  The amount the billionaire former eBay chief executive has spent on advertising and political consultants, most of it from her personal fortune, stands in sharp contrast to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, who reported Tuesday that he has spent $10.7 million this year, nearly all of it since Labor Day."
Source: Huffington Post

"Incumbents beware."
Random Roving, January 1, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Historical View of Inflation

A nice historical view of inflation.  SGS is sourced from Shadowstats.com.

Some Facts For Election Day

With the election upon us and politics really heating up, it might be a good time to present some more facts.  Both teams keep fighting and pointing fingers, but the graph below shows participation from both sides.  It also took some indulgent consumers to make it happen.  We were "all in".  We're still "all in". Reagan kicked it off in 1982 and the party continues today.  Note the difference between now and the Roaring 20's.  We have them beat by a mile.  Does the "down" relate in magnitude to the "up".  We hope not.  But, note that the down in the 30's was below the level where the Roaring 20's began.