23 Apr 2013

We've Dug a Pretty Damn Big Hole for Ourselves - How do we get out of this mess?

By James H. Kunstler: The diminishing returns of technology are insidious, and they are ever with us. By this I mean the slow erosion of the quality of life, despite the impression that technological wonders only make our lives better.

We've Become a Society of Self-Deluded Children

The most obvious example is what happened to the telephone over the past thirty years. We computerized every phone system in America to “improve communications.”  The net effect is that after all that time and expense (billions of capital investment), it is now nearly impossible to get a live human being on the phone, whether you are calling a Fortune 500 corporation, a non-profit charity, or your best friend. Has that improved communication? What you get instead are robots that waste big chunks of your time forcing you to listen to complex call-routing menus – often ending in futility.
Companies and institutions assume that they benefit from the “efficiency” of not having to pay gangs of human receptionists. But they only succeed in annoying their customers and clients, who are treated as pests to be avoided. In effect, phone systems became firewalls, not communication enhancers.
Add to that the more recent phenomenon of cell phones and smart phones, which, for all their charms, 1) don’t work in all locations, 2) drop calls frequently, 3) have lousy sound quality, 4) feature time delays that make people talk over each other constantly, 5) erode real-time social relations with distracting apps and web features, and 6) possibly harm people’s brains by constantly rinsing them in microwaves.
A larger issue of technology’s effect on culture is the erosion of a shared sense of what is going on in the world based on reality.

Ron Paul on Gold - No One Knows Value - I'm Buying

Ron Paul, Former Congressman from Texas, discusses his views on gold, central banks, and the weakened Republican Party. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "Market Makers." (Source: Bloomberg)

Sinclair - Swiss Banksters Just Refused To Give My Friend His Gold

I really wonder whether those are precautions or whether the gold simply isn’t there.  Now you tell me that a London delivery has basically failed.  It has to raise our suspicions that the lack of physical gold behind the paper gold is literally so severe that we are coming to understand that it is in fact not there.

Psyops & Debt Diets - Mr and Mrs Keiser With Wolf Richter

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert-Keiser follow the ounces not the prices in the precious metals market and discuss the psyops of the gold war where sales of 1100 tons (45% of annual new supply) is sold into the market at once in order to alter behavior. They observe crowds stampeding in the East for more physical gold while in the West, people are put on a restricted debt diet controlled by their governments based on needs not wants. Finally, they discuss the conflicts of interest at the heart of CISPA and Max starts his own hashtag - #AmericaFatigue. In the second half of the show, they talk to Wolf Richter of Testosteronepit.com about gold smashes, wealth grabs and government and Wall Street corruption. Source

Britain is in the depths of an economic depression, Archbishop warns

By The Most Rev Justin Welby, a former City oil trader, called for a radical overhaul of the financial system including the break-up of at least one major state controlled bank and a return to smaller, regional banks, curbing the dominance of London.
He also called for banking itself to be turned into a proper profession with its own set of professional standards rather than being “something that people drift into”.
And he advocated creation of a so-called “bad bank” to take on toxic assets, similar to the model adopted in Ireland and other crisis-hit economies.

Warriors, come out to play: If you want to go to heaven, you had better get busy overthrowing Syria

By Paul Craig Roberts: The United States government has been at war for eleven years. The US military destroyed Iraq, leaving the country and millions of lives in ruins and releasing sectarian blood-letting that had been kept in check by the secular Saddam Hussein government. On any given day in “liberated” Iraq, the death toll is as high as during the height of the US attempted occupation.
In Afghanistan eleven years of US attempted occupation has had no more success than a decade of Soviet occupation. The Afghans are still not worn down despite more than two decades of war with the two superpowers. Like the Soviets, the Americans have managed to kill many women, children, and village elders, but precious few warriors. In place of the Soviet puppet government there is Washington’s puppet government. That is the only change, and Washington’s puppet is no more secure than the Soviet one was.

BitCoin, Or BetaCoin? What The Venture Capitalists Are Thinking

Tyler Durden's picture After a disastrous few days in early April, bitcoin is back over $100 and up on the month, the year and its short lifetime.  ConvergEx's Nick Colas is intrigued and continues to believe that this phenomenon is the most provocative economic experiment since the invention of the euro and well worth watching.  The next chapter of the story, he believes, will be the entry of a host of "Smart money" venture capitalists looking to build the currency's infrastructure.  Money and currency are exactly the kind of large, scalable and complex opportunity that gets VCs very, very excited.  Yes, it could all still end in tears, either by regulation or mismanagement.  But bitcoin isn’t dead just yet, and it remains one of the most potentially disruptive forces in modern finance.

Via ConvergEx's Nick Colas:
What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
Of all the quotes about money in screen and song, I think the best one comes from film legend Lauren Bacall: “Money doesn’t make me happy, but it doesn’t make me unhappy either.”  She probably felt that way about gold, diamonds, furs, and trips to the Riviera as well.  Wise woman, that…  A lot of economists and market watchers would do well to follow her example.
The nature of money and currency is, in fact, one of the most hotly contested questions of the last five years.

'Why awful is the new normal'

Next time somebody tries to give you a bullish view, accept the fact that it’s really bullshit.
The Slog: Chinese manufacturing slowed in April, exacerbating concerns over the strength of the world’s second biggest economy.
Eurozone deficits are falling, but only because its economy has slumped. Thus if you used to trade badly but now there’s no trade at all,your deficits will fall. Also, you will starve.
Interest rates are low because Sovereigns would quickly go bust if they were raised….so great is their debt.
Unemployment has stopped rising in northern Europe, but this disguises the fact that hours worked are falling. In the UK, only 1 in 4 of the economically active now has a full-time job.
Four bouts of QE from Ben Bernanke have had a steadily reducing effect. None of them has restarted the US economy. 7.6 million Americans would like to work on a more fulltime basis.
The US housing market went into reverse during March. No American recovery in history has ever occurred without a growing housing sector.
Gold prices were forced downwards through manipulation last week, in order to dissuade physical gold holders from starting a run on the metal. Gold coins and bullion continue to be heavily demanded, while huge FOREX warehouse withdrawals were noted at the end of March. Both strongly suggest low trust and confidence in the econo-financial system.
No banks anywhere in the Western world are now doing the job they’re supposed to: viz, lend money to growing small businesses and underwrite new technological growth sectors.  The chicken and egg thing is simple here: they lost all their money, cut small business off without a penny, then used all our spending money to avoid insolvency. The result is no expansion and no demand.

As Forewarned, The Irish Savers Have Just Been "Cyprus'd", And There's MUCH MORE "Cyprusing" To Come

By Reggie Middleton: This is likely to be the biggest financial story of the month, a story that's bigger than Cyprus, and a story that you're not going to see in American mainstream media - not by a long shot. Let's take this from the top, for BoomBustBloggers were warned weeks in advanced. On Wednesday, 27 March 2013 I published EU Bank Depositors: Your Mattress Is Starting To Look Awfully Attractive - Bank Risk, Reward & Compensation wherein I explained that the situation of extreme loss faced by Cyprus bank depositors, savers and bondholders will not be a unique story - as excerpted:

The deposit accounts that you were getting just a few hundred basis points for have developed:

    1. Liquidity risks: The capital controls that weren't supposed to happen (see No Capital Controls In The EMU? Liar Liar Pants On Fire), happened! See Cyprus Banks Set To Reopen, To Serve As Glorified ATMs With A €300 Cash Withdrawal Limit
    2. Credit risks: Your so-called safe investments will suffer up to a 40% haircut! Mainstream Media Says Cyprus Salvaged By EU Deal, I Say Cyprus Is Sacrificed By Said Deal - Thrown Into Depression
    3. and Market risks: Demand depositors have forcibly purchased highly speculative synthetic call options with their haircuts that are unlikely to compensate anyone for anything!

How to explain Bitcoin to your grandmother

As anyone who doesn't have a degree in advanced computer science knows, Bitcoin is conceptually tricky. Thus, when your grandmother is wanting to buy marijuana off the Silk Road and begins asking you to explain Bitcoin to her, what do you do? Ever since early 2012, when I asked the question 'what the hell is Bitcoin?', I've been trying to find ways to explain it to myself.

Chinese Sue Fed For Monopoly USD Devaluation

Tyler Durden's picture In what could grow into a class action in US courts, a Chinese woman is suing the Federal Reserve after discovering that the real value of the USD250 she put in an account in 2006 had shrunk by 30%. She claims it was the result of the Fed issuing too much money, and as The South China Morning Post reports, her son Li Zhen, the lawyer, called the lawsuit "litigation for the public good". Alleging "abuse of monopoly in issuing currency," the People's Court of Kunming has yet to rule on the litigants' demand that the Fed cease-and-desist from its quantitative easing policy. While this may seem frivolous, there are some interesting points being made that bear watching, as Li notes, since "the Fed is private institution which enjoys monopoly over the issuing of currency, US Dollar holders can sue it for printing too much money."

**St.Georges Day Special** BBC Sucks O Cocks News + Letter delivered to No. 10

The Artist Taxi Driver