Tag Archives: recession

Consumer Confidence Index Declines Again – Second Recession Probable

NEW YORK, June 28, 2011 — The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index continued its multi-month decline in June. After having decreased to 61.7 in May the economic index hit 58.5 this month indicating that consumers are feeling the onset of a second, or double-dip, recession.

Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center Lynn Franco said, “This month’s decline in consumer confidence was driven by a less favorable assessment of current conditions and continued pessimism about the short-term outlook. Consumers rated both current business and labor market conditions less favorably than in May, and fewer consumers than last month foresee conditions improving over the next six months. Inflation fears eased considerably in June, but concerns about income prospects increased. Given the combination of uneasiness about the economic outlook and future earnings, consumers are likely to continue weighing their spending decisions quite carefully.”

Consumer confidence dropped in many key areas. Their appraisal of present conditions was less favorable than in May, those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased to 38.0 percent from 37.2 percent and consumers’ assessment of the job market was also less favorable. Those stating jobs are “hard to get” rose to 43.8 percent, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 5.2 percent.

Expectations of a recovery just around the corner have diminished. Americans expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months almost a full point to 16.4 percent and more expect that business conditions will worsen.

The index demonstrates that consumers are feeling what economists have just started to realize – a second recession may have begun in April of 2011. Manufacturing indices, actual jobless numbers, dismal workforce participation and declining consumer spending all point to a second recession.

Not Devoted Enough Time to Africa?

Wondering how she can "spend" your Tax Dollars

Michelle Obama set out on a week-long trip to Africa to spread goodwill – on the U.S. Taxpayers dime. Of course there is criticism with “extra” trips that this administration’s family has taken. The trip is provoking disappointment from Africa advocates who argue that President Obama, whose father was Kenyan, hasn’t devoted enough time to the continent since winning the presidency.

Mwiza Munthali, public outreach director of TransAfrica Forum, argues that U.S. officials “are not seeing Africa as a big priority. There has been some uncertainty.” The president has made just one trip to sub-Saharan Africa since his Jan. 2009 inauguration and has chosen not to accompany his wife on her journey.

Not devoted enough time to Africa? The last time I looked he was still the President of the United States – not a leader in Africa. I wish that he were a leader of any other country besides the U.S. then I would not care so much about the more than 70 rounds of golf he has played as president. It would be nice if he would devote more of his time to “common sense” solutions to the problems plaguing the United States.

This isn’t the first time the First Lady has come under fire for travel plans. The First Lady raised eyebrows last August when she decided to fly off to Spain on taxpayers dimes, commanding top-dollar luxury accommodations in the middle of a recession. The New York Daily News called her “a modern-day Marie Antoinette.”

On a couple other trips she has been questioned on her international etiquette – in April 2009, she broke royal protocol and hugged Queen Elizabeth, causing a major stir in England. Then in Indonesia last November, Michelle Obama shook the hand of a conservative Muslim minister, a form of social contact between the sexes that violated his religious vows. He blamed the First Lady for the violation.

By the sound of it I really believe she “thinks” she is better than anyone else in the entire world. When the Obama’s travel internationally they are representing the United States, but with her antics I don’t want her representing me. It is sort of like the show “Beverly Hillbillies” when a bunch of poor backwoods people are transplanted to Beverly Hills, California, after striking oil on their land – it just don’t fit.

The First Lady organized another paltry trip to Mexico in April 2010 with Jill Biden. While that trip, too, was aimed primarily on establishing contact with younger civic leaders, some muckrakers called out the First Lady for taking time to travel to a country that’s long been a crucial moment in U.S. immigration policy. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, for instance, argued that the trip was little more than an effort to promote “illegal alien shamnesty.”

Expectations for American engagement with Africa soared when Obama took office, with advocates citing his previous travels to his father’s homeland of Kenya and attention paid to African nations while he was a senator. But while Obama has talked about his “family members who live in villages” and told an Africa-focused Web site that he is “probably as knowledgeable about African history as anybody who’s occupied my office,” he has made just one presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa.

Maybe we can get Obama to move back “home” to South-Africa and he can “lead” in that country – as he is about done leading this country in the WRONG direction. Now that is something I would promote for him and vote for him on. Sorry Obama I am just trying to help you out – help you right out of my White House!

Sources:
Michelle Obama heads to Africa, stirs criticism
First lady’s African trip resurrects criticism of president on African issues

Pack Your Bags, Obama Family!

Well, it seems as though the honeymoon may be over. In an interview with Ann Curry of NBC’s Today Show, Obama stated that the first family approves of a one-term presidency. HOLD ON! Don’t break out the champagne just yet. Obama has not given up entirely, but he very well might be facing the facts that the American people may be tired of him pushing his liberal agenda rather than facing the problems of the nation.

He continually pushes his liberal agenda, ignoring the will of We The People, while the nation is in turmoil due to a declining economy. This has in turn led to the unemployment rate climbing out of control; this has caused many families to not only lose their means of support but also their homes. Still he pushes his liberal agenda, continuing to turn a deaf ear to We The People. While the backbone of this country struggles, the president passes the buck, blaming the past administration or even the technology that employees many of our citizens. Though I can agree to a certain extent with the president about the automation that many companies have applied to cut their overhead, the lack of attention Obama and other “leaders” (for lack of a better word) have given the worsening economy has done more damage than automation every dreamt of causing!

I know most of you have not known me very long but one thing people that know me will tell you is I am willing to admit when I am wrong or agree with one that I normally am at odds with. Obama stated

“They’re not invested in daddy being president or my husband being president”.

If that is the truth then I applaud the first family. It’s easy to look at the luxuries and privileges that the first family receives but we forget the problems that face the first family such as lack of time with the family.

(Alright, back to the soap box)

The hope of a one-term presidency has been the thing that many of us have held on to since the day Obama was inaugurated. One thing that kept running through my mind when listening to the interview was “is this just more smoke from the silver tongued devil to get us to let our guards down”.  With the way Obama can speak out of both sides of his mouth leaves me skeptical of the truth of many of his statements. He has proven time and again that he knows how to turn on the charm when it comes to an election or important vote for his agenda. Flash a big smile; say some pretty words and some will be charmed without seeing the ugly truth hiding behind the smile and pretty words.

I encourage you to look deep into what each candidate on both sides say before making your decision on whom to vote for.  “Silver tongued devils” are not exclusive to the Democratic party. We must look at the character of the candidates and what they have stood for in their past to determine who would be best to lead this great nation into the future.

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For those of you that own firearms, train hard and well and teach those that do not know how. Be good stewards of the right to bear arms, for we are the last line of defense against tyranny.

-Benjamin Wallace

 

 

National Home Prices Hit New Low in 2011

NEW YORK, May 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Data through March 2011, released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller(1) Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, show that the U.S. National Home Price Index declined by 4.2% in the first quarter of 2011, after having fallen 3.6% in the fourth quarter of 2010.  The National Index hit a new recession low with the first quarter’s data and posted an annual decline of 5.1% versus the first quarter of 2010. Nationally, home prices are back to their mid-2002 levels.

As of March 2011, 19 of the 20 MSAs covered by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and both monthly composites were down compared to March 2010. Twelve of the 20 MSAs and the 20-City Composite also posted new index lows in March. With an index value of 138.16, the 20-City Composite fell below its earlier reported April 2009 low of 139.26. Minneapolis posted a double-digit 10.0% annual decline, the first market to be back in this territory since March 2010 when Las Vegas was down 12.0% on an annual basis. In the midst of all these falling prices and record lows, Washington DC was the only city where home prices increased on both a monthly (+1.1%) and annual (+4.3%) basis.  Seattle was up a modest 0.1% for the month, but still down 7.5% versus March 2010.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 5.1% decline in the first quarter of 2011 over the first quarter of 2010. In March, the 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual rates of decline of 2.9% and 3.6%, respectively. Thirteen of the 20 MSAs and both monthly Composites saw their annual growth rates fall deeper into negative territory in March. While they did not worsen, Chicago, Phoenix and Seattle saw no improvement in their respective annual rates.

“This month’s report is marked by the confirmation of a double-dip in home prices across much of the nation. The National Index, the 20-City Composite and 12 MSAs all hit new lows with data reported through March 2011. The National Index fell 4.2% over the first quarter alone, and is down 5.1% compared to its year-ago level. Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “Since December 2010, we have found an increasing number of markets posting new lows. In March 2011, 12 cities – Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago,Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland (OR) and Tampa – fell to their lowest levels as measured by the current housing cycle. Washington D.C. was the only MSA displaying positive trends with an annual growth rate of +4.3% and a 1.1% increase from its February level.

“The rebound in prices seen in 2009 and 2010 was largely due to the first-time home buyers tax credit.  Excluding the results of that policy, there has been no recovery or even stabilization in home prices during or after the recent recession. Further, while last year saw signs of an economic recovery, the most recent data do not point to renewed gains.”

“Looking deeper into the monthly data, 18 MSAs and both Composites were down in March over February. The only two which weren’t, are Washington DC, up 1.1%, and Seattle, up 0.1%. Atlanta,Cleveland, Detroit and Las Vegas are the markets where average home prices are now below their January 2000 levels.  With a March index level of 100.27, Phoenix is not far off.”

As of the first quarter of 2011, average home prices across the United States are back at their mid-2002 levels. The National Index level hit a new low in the first quarter of 2011; it fell by 4.2% in the first quarter of 2011 and is 5.1% below its 2010Q1 level.

Eleven cities and both Composites have posted at least eight consecutive months of negative month-over-month returns. Of these, eight cities are down 1% or more. The only cities to post positive improvements in March versus their February levels are Seattle and Washington D.C. with monthly returns of +0.1% and +1.1% respectively.

 

Years of Stimulus Fails to Create Jobs; 8 Weeks of Tax Cuts Gets it Done

Stimulus after stimulus program has been put in place by the Obama administration. Cash for clunkers, the GM/Chrysler/Union bail-outs, the actual 2009 economic stimulus bill, and on and on and on. As the  New American posted, it didn’t create much of anything in the private sector.

Thomas Smith at Emory University, supported the stimulus package but he now finds that although the funds may have resulted in some people being employed, the stimulus spending in the construction area has not resulted in creating jobs. Another economist compared the impact of federal stimulus funds to employment in the construction industry to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing it.

As recent as December of 2010, the employment outlook was gloomy which finally forced Obama to sign the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts into law on December 17th. In addition to extending the current tax rates, Democrats further cut taxes by slashing the Social Security tax by 2%. Obama and the Congressional liberals had found a new religion and it’s already proving fruitful.

Today, the unemployment report dropped to 8.9%, the lowest since 2009. It didn’t stay at 8.8% throughout the stimulus. It didn’t drop when Obama took over GM. It didn’t drop each time the government tried to be the solution to the problem. Only once the government removed some of it’s burdensome taxes did the economy react and it reacted within weeks, not years.

Let citizens keep their money and they will spend it. That creates true economic stimulus as businesses hire and expand to handle the increased demand. Demand which only consumers can drive. Capitalism 101 liberals, are they finally learning?

Conference Board Indicator Ticks Up Fourth Consecutive Month

NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) increased in January for the fourth consecutive month. The index now stands at 100.5, up from December’s revised figure of 100.3. The index is up 7 percent from a year ago.

Says Gad Levanon, Associate Director, Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board: “Despite anemic job gains in January, the Employment Trends Index suggests that employment growth is poised to accelerate. Both ‘hard’ economic data as well as confidence measures have improved, and since employment growth typically lags, we expect larger numbers of jobs to be added back into the economy in the coming months.”

This month’s increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from four out of the eight components plus one neutral, which is Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now. The improving indicators included Consumer Confidence “Jobs Hard to Get,” Part-Time Workers for Economic Reasons, Job Openings and Industrial Production.

The Real Unemployment Report

The Mainstream, New York bred, big-business news media outlets were practically tripping over themselves to report that the unemployment rate had dropped “unexpectedly” to 9.0%. The fact that only 36,000 of an expected 140,000 jobs were added was glossed over.

How could an economy that must “Generate 246,600 Jobs A Month To Get To Pre-Depression Employment By End Of Obama Second Term” be seeing a reduction in the rate of employment when we aren’t creating anything close to the number of jobs a recovery would require? It’s rather simple – it isn’t.

Rick Santelli, a CNBC panelist slammed his colleagues when they tried to buff this terd.

“[W]e have overwhelming evidence the jobs market is disappointing, and all of you are trying to look for that one half of spaghetti in a 50 lb. spaghetti bowl. This is not great data,” Santelli claimed. “We know that the U6 probably gives you a better indication of the true unemployment rate …”

Of course his disagreeing comrades keep repeating that “it went down..” when referring to the rate, but the number is a highly-manipulated statistic. If we gain less than 25% of the jobs that we need to recover, and the unemployment rate goes down then the number is simply a lie. The real numbers are dug up by independent analysts and bloggers.

Tyler Durden did a one paragraph analysis of the labor force participation rate. This is a true ratio of the number of Americans working to the actual population.

..the labor force participation rate (as a percentage of the total civilian noninstitutional population) is now at a fresh 26 year low, the lowest since March 1984, and is the only reason why the unemployment rate dropped to 9% (labor force declined from 153,690 to 153,186). Those not in the Labor Force has increased from 83.9 million to 86.2 million, or 2.2 million in one year! As for the numerator in the fraction, the number of unemployed, it has plunged from 15 million to 13.9 million in two months!

So 2.2 million fewer jobs exist now than did a year ago? What happened to the 3 million jobs that would be created or saved or whatever by Obama’s Keynesian stimulus garbage? The real numbers speak for themselves.

Labor Force Participation Rate

Just imagine how bad this month’s report will be once they adjust it .. just before the next one comes out. Adjust this one down even further when we don’t care about that month anymore and then claim false gains in the following month. This is how they do it.

Money for Nothing and Houses for Free.

How would you feel if a burglar was caught inside your home stealing everything of value, and when the police went to make out the police report, you were told that you would have to write a check for $5000.00 to pay for the burglar’s legal fees? Well that happens indirectly, with the Lawyer-enriching “Right to Legal counsel” laws we have today. Those public defenders are not working for free. Another kind of this Lawyer – enriching thievery from the taxpayers was exposed this past week involving two companies whom I feel have as much culpability as Wall Street did in the housing crash of today. Meet Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. These two companies announced that they want you the taxpayer to pay for their 160 million dollars in legal fees stemming from investigations of long-term fraud and corruption. With a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives today, it seems like Fannie and Freddie were/are trying to take in every single taxpayer dollar they can before serious investigations expose their dealings.

The New York Times ran a piece on this on 01/24/2011.* While this article does address some serious facts, it also seems to deny the responsibility of the top three executives to pay for their own legal fees stemming from years of their own corrupt, incompetent practices. The Times also refused to state the huge bonuses and salaries the top three culprits raked in right in the middle of the housing crisis. Here are a few observations from that article. Parenthesis at end are my comments.

The Times points out three key players in the story:

“Documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate that taxpayers have paid $24.2 million to law firms defending three of Fannie’s former top executives: Franklin D. Raines, its former chief executive; Timothy Howard, its former chief financial officer; and Leanne Spencer, the former controller.”

The story then demonstrates how for the last 4 years of Democratic rule, the House has done little, if anything to investigate the travesty, that both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have become:

“Since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the government in September 2008, their losses stemming from bad loans have mounted, totaling about $150 billion in a recent reckoning. Because the financial regulatory overhaul passed last summer did not address how to resolve Fannie and Freddie, Congress is expected to take up that complex matter this year.”

Could it all be simple ineptitude?  Of course not – outright corruption is certainly another part of the problem:

“ Well before the credit crisis compelled the government to rescue Fannie and Freddie, accounting irregularities had engulfed both companies. Shareholders of Fannie and Freddie sued to recover stock losses incurred after the improprieties came to light.”

So here we have evidence of “accounting irregularities” resulting in lawsuits, yet instead of criminal charges and government intervention to stop the fraud, our Congress not only turns their heads the other way…But decides to put the taxpayers on the hook for the entire bill, as evidenced further in The Times article:

“Freddie’s problems arose in 2003 when it disclosed that it had understated its income from 2000 to 2002; the company revised its results by an additional $5 billion. In 2004, Fannie was found to have overstated its results for the preceding six years; conceding that its accounting was improper, it reduced its past earnings by $6.3 billion. Mr. Raines retired in December 2004 and Mr. Howard resigned at the same time. Ms. Spencer left her position as controller in early 2005. The following year, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, then the company’s regulator, published an in-depth report on the company’s accounting practices, accusing Fannie’s top executives of taking actions to manipulate profits and generate $115 million in improper bonuses. ( So they were found to be cooking the books to enrich themselves, paid fines that prove it, yet still feel the taxpayer should pay their legal fees? )

This is like a bad remake of the movie Groundhog Day here, where the mistakes and improprieties happen over and over again. When President Obama and the Democrats passed the partisan Financial Regulatory Reform bill last year, they also once again chose to ignore  the problems at F&F. That’s right, when Republicans tried to demand that the Financial Regulatory Reform bill include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they were told told no. Coincidence? Everything happens for a reason, and I would like to hear the President’s and his  Democratic Party’s reason for allowing F&F to continue writing checks on the taxpayers account.

“Fannie Mae also settled a fraud suit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting or denying the allegations; the company paid $400 million in penalties.” (Nothing to see here folks, just move on, but make sure you keep writing those checks drawn on the people’s Federal funds.)

When it comes to our Government today, we have such a bloated beauracracy that the checks and balances within Government, written into our  Constitution are being ignored. The “Federal Housing Finance Agency” agreed to pay for the proven fraudster’s legal fees?  What next?  Bernie Madoff being pardoned, so he may become the Secretary of the Treasury? Or maybe the Chairman of the Federal Reserve? Further on in The Times piece we see:

“After the government moved to back Fannie and Freddie, the Federal Housing Finance Agency agreed to continue paying to defend the executives, with the taxpayers covering the costs.”

So here we have proven fraud, corruption and incompetence within Fannie and Freddie, with absolutely nothing being done about it over the past eight years. Not one person has even been given criminal charges or jail time. Just the opposite, they still have that blank check written on the taxpayers account.  Seems to me it is pretty obvious here, as to why the people no longer trust their government.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/business/24fees.html?src=me&ref=business *

Deflation or Inflation? Yes

Since the beginning of the “Great Recession” that Americans still find themselves in, there have been prognostications of incredible inflation while other “experts” claim that crippling deflation would be the necessary outcome.  Could they both be right?

Perhaps – there are two major forces at play in our economy right now: price inflation and income deflation.

Price inflation

Wheat Prices

Commodities are going through the roof.  Oil is above $90 a barrel, corn is $6.07 per bushel, March wheat got as high as $8.05 a bushel this week soybeans, cotton, sugar .. you name it.

It’s not just food and clothing.  Copper, gold, silver are also much higher recently.  All of these commodities are building blocks for the food we eat, the clothes we wear and consumer items Americans need.

Oil prices hit twice as hard.  Not only is petroleum a raw material for plastics, medicines, food and clothing, but it is also used to fuel the trucks, trains, planes and ships that transport those goods to stores.

Now that the government is pushing to raise the amount of ethanol in gasoline, rising corn prices will also hit Americans in two places.  As a component of E10/E15/E85, it will increase the price at the pump.  As more corn is turned into fuel, the supply-demand curve will steepen and everything that has corn as an input will see raw material prices increase even faster.

Wage/Income Deflation

The American job market has not recovered from the recession and is likely to take several years to do so.  As The Wall Street Journal reports, this recession is already longer than the last wage period where wage deflation took hold.

The only other downturn since the Depression to see similarly large wage cuts was the 1981-82 recession. But the latest downturn is already eclipsing that one. Unemployment has stood above 9% for 20 straight months—longer than the early 1980s stretch—and is likely to remain above that level for most of 2011, putting downward pressure on wages.

With millions more workers seeking jobs than there are available, employers have gained a stronger position in pay negotiations.  The job market is incredibly competitive allowing employers to cherry pick the best talent for the salary dollar.

Another downward wage pressure is that employers do not have to give big salary increases or bonuses to keep talented employees.  A tough job market means fewer employees will be willing to leave and if they do, there is an ample pool of workers ready to take their place – perhaps at a reduced rate.

The Journal post shows evidence that these dynamics are cutting wages for American workers.

Economists had wondered how far this dynamic would go in this recession, and now the numbers are starting to show it: Between 2007 and 2009, more than half the full-time workers who lost jobs that they had held for at least three years and then found new full-time work by early last year reported wage declines, according to the Labor Department. Thirty-six percent reported the new job paid at least 20% less than the one they lost.

Prices Higher and Incomes lower – Inflation or Deflation?

Both.  Production costs are going up, but consumer buying power is falling off.

Consumers have to pay home heating costs, put gas in their cars, buy clothes and food.  If all of those things cost more, and consumers are making less money .. there is less consumer potential in the market place.  Welcome back the nemesis from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s: stagflation.

Remember the “misery index” from the 1976 and 1980 Presidential election?  The misery index is computed by adding inflation to unemployment.  If both are high, a stagnant economy and high inflation are present.  Stuff gets more expensive to make, but no one can afford it so the economy stagnates.

Jimmy Carter holds the current record of 21.98, but Obama’s current term is on a run taking the misery index from 7.73 at the beginning of his Presidency to 10.94 in November.  The current numbers are deceptively low for two reasons: the federal reserve inflation rate and bureau of labor’s unemployment numbers aren’t telling the whole story.

Anyone that has been to the grocery store or filled their car up with gas knows that things are much more expensive lately.  Because the government’s inflation measure does not include food and energy, it doesn’t take into account the very things that Americans simply must buy.  The incredibly low inflation rate reported by the fed is a sham and does not truthfully report the increase in living costs that Americans face.

The unemployment numbers are also portraying a false positive.  BLS statistics do not include those that have simply given up looking for work or have run out of benefits.  Unemployment is a measure of first time applications.  After 20+ months, not many first timers left to apply.  As this article from the Associated Press states, 9.4 is not as good a number as the President would have America believe (emphasis mine).

The unemployment rate did come down, to 9.4 percent from 9.8, but that was partly because people gave up looking for work.

..

All told, employers added 1.1 million jobs in 2010, or about 94,000 a month. The nation still has 7.2 million fewer jobs today than it did in December 2007, when the recession began.

Producers have been eating the increasing costs of their raw materials and transportation.  That practice is ending as margins have been squeezed as tightly as possible.  The cost to the consumer is going up, but the consumer now has less money to spend.  Stagflation, again..  oddly enough, under another progressive Democrat President that has been listening to Paul Volcker for economic advice.  Same players, same results.

Wreckovery Wednesday – It’s Not Getting Better Out There

We’ve been hearing that the situation in America is improving, albeit slowly.  It would appear, that they are not improving .. at all.  It’s time for a new strategy.

Goldman Sachs Says U.S. Economy May Be `Fairly Bad’

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the U.S. economy is likely to be “fairly bad” or “very bad” over the next six to nine months.

Real-estate slump to linger

Prospects for global realty remain “dismal” in the midst of a downturn that could last eight years, warns the International Monetary Fund, which sees lingering woes in “bust” and “rebound” counties alike.

Private Sector Sheds Jobs

A private employers unexpectedly cut 39,000 jobs in September after an upwardly revised gain of 10,000 in August.

IMF Warns Against Currency War

The IMF chief says nations looking to cap the strength of their currencies risks derailing recovery.

40% of U.S. Workers Delay Retirement

A new report shows 40% of workers are planning to delay their retirement due to concerns about out living their savings and fears of rising healthcare costs.

IMF Cuts U.S. Growth Estimates on Weak Consumer Spending

The International Monetary Fund lowered its forecast for U.S. growth this year and 2011, predicting a “slow” rebound restrained by a lack of consumer spending.

Congress to Enhance Smoot-Hawley – Protectionist Cause of the Great Depression

Smoot-Hawley was officially named the “Tarrif Act of 1930″.  The act raised or enacted tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods. This incredibly protectionist move is largely credited with creating the Great Depression.  Our current leadership thinks we should try it again.

Lies and Sighs: Unemployment is NOT down

Weekly Unemployment Insurance Claims

Just a few weeks ago, I reported that unemployment has been the same since the beginning of the year.  SURPRISE:  it’s still the same, despite main-stream media reports that it has gone down.

How could I say such a thing?  How could I refute the media?  Why would they lie?

Actually, they aren’t really lying, just being deceitful.  Here is the graph from earlier this month.

You can clearly see that things have not changed, but that’s old news.  What if we add in last week’s and this weeks numbers?

Suprise!!  .. the same unemployment graph chart. Despite news outlets like Fox Business reporting that unemployment is down, it’s not.  If you look at the graph, the delta from Q1 to now is actually, GASP/SHOCK/STUNNED SUPRISE, up.  The government and media are selling a lie.  One the government needs to be true – the economy is improving.  They are hoping that by suckering you in to spending the money you have been using as a cushion against a secondary crash, things will improve.  They won’t.

Stifling new government regulations on healthcare, income, taxation .. business aren’t going to spend so the government is hoping your stupid enough to do it.  If they won’t take their hands out of your pockets, you’d better find ways to hide the money you normally keep there.

Economic Catch-22: Prices Stagnant and So Is Income

The failed sales pitch on the “Recovery Summer” not withstanding .. the U.S. economy is still in dire straights.  We are making less money, food and energy are costing more, and manufacturers are struggling to increase the prices on goods which would allow them to hire more people or pay employees more.  Are we seeing disinflation or the beginnings of deflation?  Neither is good.

Yesterday, I took a look at the Department of Labor statistics going all the way back to March to show that there has been zero improvement in the jobless situation as far back as the first quarter.

Jobless Situation Unchanged Since March – Real Analysis on the Unemployment Numbers

Today the Wall Street Journal published an article demonstrating that deflationary pressure has ben in play for over a decade.

Report: U.S. Family Income Has Tumbled Steeply In The Past ‘Lost’ Decade

Over at Bloomberg.com a terrifying combination of retail stagflation while energy and food prices rise:

U.S. Consumer Prices Rose 0.3% in August, Core Rate Flat

If businesses cannot ask a higher price for their products, they simply cannot hire more people or increase the wages of those who already work for them.  If employees cannot bring in more money, but their necessities – energy and food – get more expensive .. there will be even less money in the economy left to buy goods and services.

Eventually people will get even more conservative with their food and energy spending which could trigger heavy deflation in even those sectors.

Jobless Situation Unchanged Since March – Real Analysis on the Unemployment Numbers

Oh the media.  Every outlet has been totally abuzz about the drop in initial jobless claims reported by the Department of Labor today.  It was only a reduction of 3,000 people, but that’s not where they failed to do their homework- the 450,000 number .. is THE SAME as it was back in March and before.  That means that things are not improving.  In fact, when compared to March numbers .. things are actually worse.

To prove the point, I pulled every report from the Department of Labor website since March.  Since today’s news was about seasonally adjusted numbers, I used the same screwy set of numbers to create this graph.

Weekly Unemployment Insurance ClaimsIn March initial claims were at 442,000 – yeah, 8,000 less than today’s report.  What’s even more surprising is that we actually reached the lowest number in July at 427,000.  Two months later and people are still filing initial claims at a rate of 450,000 a week.

Think about it, that’s NEW claims only and is around 2 million people every month that need help from the government .. that have not needed it before (initial claims).

Honestly, we are in a range of roughly 425,000 to 480,000 claims weekly and today’s report shows that it isn’t improving at all.  Stimulus spending has done absolutely nothing and the situation may actually be deteriorating.  If we don’t see seasonally adjusted, weekly claims drop below 400,000 soon .. another spike like the August nightmare of over 500,000 claims could be soon to follow.

Are companies still laying off?  Yes, today Fedex announced a 1700 person layoff due to a dismal forecast.  If one of the largest shippers is forecasting doom .. businesses must not be thinking about moving more inventory and filling more orders.

The government and the media are not showing you this.  The government needs you to spend and I have no idea why the media didn’t bother to research this.

Today’s numbers are no improvement and the next month or so will be telling.  Keep this chart bookmarked and revisit every time they tell you that things are looking up.  Of course, upward is relative and we are in quite a hole.

You Are No Longer Entitled to Prosperity

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), or Chartilism, is not as innocuous as it sounds, and America can trace her every current  financial woe to it. Developed in the 1920s, and approved of by John Maynard Keynes, it became the hidden standard of our economy when we moved completely to a fiat money system and away from one backed by a commodity.  In the simplest terms, MMT is a system in which the wealth creation of a nation is measured by government deficit spending rather than the goods or services sold for profit among its citizens. The only way this type of system is sustainable, is if the government taxes its citizenry to recover the already spent money. Proponents for this system argue that it is preferred because it allows for government deficit spending for (get this) fiscal stimulus in ways not possible under a commodity based monetary system.

For six months last year the Federal Reserve printed money to fund the already passed stimulus plan to the tune of $300 Billion. Additionally, they “bought” mortgage backed securities from the already bankrupt mortgage twins Fannie and Freddie. The Central Bank joined in the fun of buying both, and recently aquired debt by both in US Treasuries and Fannie & Freddie’s paper this past year is a whopping $1.25 TRILLION.

While MMT has been in practice since long before the US abandoned the Gold Standard, it has recently been purposely employed as the current Administration’s fiscal policy. Is it any wonder there has been no budget passed? The real question everyone should be asking is: “How much of my money have they already spent?”

The answer to that is one that most middle class Americans cannot afford to hear. The U.S. National Debt Clock puts each taxpayer’s share at more than twice the median annual income. Without an existing budget, and using MMT as a fiscal policy, Obama’s administration could spend the American taxpayer into several generations with no means of being held accountable. With MMT, the largest missing component IS accountability.  Those spending the money are counting on you paying it, no matter how high the bill and no matter how long they continue to spend.

It is unthinkable for most middle class Americans that their taxes will increase significantly, but that is exactly what has happened, and will continue to happen. With the passage of program after program aimed at fiscal stimulus, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Financial Reform, the inflation of food prices and the looming cap and trade legislation, taxes will continue to rise to the point of your average family no longer being able to sustain their current existence. The continued cost of providing for the unemployed and the continued decline of all sectors of the housing market are affecting one in every five Americans. The hole that MMT has dug is a deep dark one, and we are still shoveling away with false hope of finding light on the other side, as long as we keep digging.

Most Americans today have no savings, are unable to put their children through college and couldn’t get a loan for a new home even if the money were still rolling in. The strangling of the US economy, the tightening of regulations on businesses small and large, and the general lack of consumer credibility,  have ground national and individual prosperity to a halt. Each new piece of burdensome legislation passed by this Administration adds to a bill that the middle class will ultimately be paying for: or facing bankruptcy on a scale so massive as to collapse the economy completely.

The decline in home starts and record low existing housing sales , unemployment, consumer borrowing lows, and general unrest about the economy are leading to an inevitable Depression era for which there are no currently viable solutions to emerge from. For us taxpayers that means Obama’s probable issuance of a second massive “emergency Stimulus package” and an even dimmer fiscal future for personal prosperity. Make no mistake, there are clear causes of the current credit crunch and nonexistent savings accounts in Middle Class America, and we elected them to office.

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