Despite the biggest jump in food prices in 18 years, the U.S. Labor Department reported that April’s "core" inflation rate was an understated 2.3 percent. The benchmark excludes food and energy and thus bears no relation to prices, since it excludes such items as the year-over-year increase in bread of 14 percent, in milk of 13 percent and in gasoline of 21 percent. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is widely used by governments, so the cost-of-living adjustment from pensions to tax rates alone can cost the government billions. However, you can only fool people for so long. Britain’s "core" inflation rose 4.6 percent in April, the highest level since 1995. Consumer prices in Japan, excluding energy and food, rose for the first time since 1988, triggering the biggest one-day rout of the Japanese bond market in five years. Now the government is under pressure to change the makeup of the index.
The root of our problems started more than a decade ago when the U.S.-led liquidity- driven global boom provided cheap financing for America’s persistent current account deficits and chronic budgetary deficits. The world was awash in dollars. The dollar surpluses were supposed to be recycled into the US but instead provided the cheap money for the build-up of the housing, oil and credit bubbles. A wall of money sought higher returns in a world of low rates. The real question is not if the credit boom has ended but what will it cost the United States to extract itself from the financial morass? After all, it took more than 10 years and billions for Japan to recover from its asset bubble implosion.
Today, the financial markets are in limbo. With luck and bold measures, there will be a new equilibrium. However, the transition is proving much more costly and painful than anyone had expected. The Great Inflation of the 1970s showed us that monetary policy was the important enabler – as it is today. And it is behind the surge in the price of commodities from oil to food.
In 1798, economist Thomas Malthus wrote in his "Essay on the Principles of Population" that population growth would be checked by many factors such as disease, war, disasters, vice and famine. Malthus developed his ideas before the Industrial Revolution, but agricultural limitations were an important factor. Now, more than 200 years later, a wave of food-price inflation has become headline news as the prices spiral upward, spurred by rising consumption trends in developing countries such as China and India. Malthus’ theories are particularly relevant if we substitute food for energy. Energy consumption is increasing much faster and prices have outpaced consumption while the population remains static. Like energy, the world isn’t running short of food, just cheap food. Fewer give heed to the implications for inflation.
We believe the escalation in food inflation is a direct consequence of the growth in money. This most important force shifted capital into land, hogs and fertilizer in the belief that the prices will go higher. The soaring prices of oil and metals signalled what would happen to food, though almost every commodity is experiencing some supply issues. Though steady demand from emerging markets is a factor, food supply is riddled with government intervention - from subsidies to taxes to quotas to trade barriers. Even so, faced with sky-high oil prices, our lawmakers subsidized the production of ethanol, a gasoline substitute made from corn and other grains. However, in the past couple of years, President Bush’s bio-fuel policy had farmers turn food into fuel, which not only pushed up grain prices but caused a shortage in other grains as demand increased. Record U.S. corn prices are up more than 60 per cent in the past year, yet the United States is importing more oil and Americans are paying higher prices for grain.
The price of rice, a staple for half of the world, recently reached a record. Meantime, inflation in many areas has also skyrocketed and the World Bank reports there have been food riots in 33 countries. Rice prices in Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporter, have already doubled this year. Six years of drought have dried up 98 per cent of Australia’s rice crop. Egypt has limited exports of rice, causing further dislocations. Vietnam, the world’s third biggest rice exporter, said it would cut rice exports this year in order to satisfy domestic demand. In sum, the world is facing a food crisis....
Bush Refuses to Read McClellan’s Book, Calling It ‘A Book’
Puts Chances of Reading Book at Zero
On a day when Washington was abuzz with the news that former White House spokesperson Scott McClellan had published a tell-all memoir, President George W. Bush offered his personal reason for not reading it.
“I have no intention of reading Scott McClellan’s book,” Mr. Bush told reporters, “because it’s a book.”
Mr. Bush said he was “surprised” that Mr. McClellan had written a book to criticize him because “if you’re trying to communicate some criticism to me, a book is pretty much the last place you’d put it.”
The president said that he thought the chances of his someday reading Mr. McClellan’s book were “zero,” adding, “If I didn’t read the Iraq Study Group’s report I really don’t think I’m about to read Scott McClellan’s little book.”
Presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota observed that if Mr. McClellan honestly expected his memoir to somehow reach Mr. Bush’s nightstand, “that demonstrates just how little he knows George W. Bush.”
“Scott McClellan would have had a much better shot if he had put his memoir in Xbox 360 format and then slipped it into a package labeled ‘Grand Theft Auto 5,’” he said.
For his part, Mr. Bush said that there was in fact a book published this week that had caught his eye: the new James Bond thrilled entitled “Devil May Care.”
“Now, that book looks like it could be good,” he said. “Maybe I’ll have Laura read it to me.”
....ob er nicht lesen kann
Für diejeinigen, die nicht Englisch verstehen, und immer noch keinen englisch-Kurs absolviert haben, eine ultrakurz-Zusammenfassung der spannenden 50 Minuten.
Jim erläutert sieben Techniken, u.a.
- last minute drop down (Kurs fällt auffällig in den letzten Handelsminuten, oft Freitags)
- carpet bombing (Bombenteppich; grosse Mengen, 500k bis 1 Mio shares, werden verkauft, um Kurs vor pp zu drücken, Minenmanager sind hilflos, Broker sagen frech in deren Gesicht ' Wir sind unangreifbar')
- morning pop (Verkauf ins Morgen-Rally hinein)
- Whopper (3x übliches Volumen billig ins ask gestellt)
- bash and cover (' Verprügle und decke ein'): die Broker mieten Leute, welche in Internetforen, blogs etc die Aktie schlecht machen, indem sie unwahre Dinge behaupten über Manager, Resourcen, Analysen etc
In der Regel arbeiten 2 oder drei Broker zusammen: Leerverkäufer A muss innert 13 Tagendie Aktien 'vorweisen', fragt Kollegen B 'verkauf die mir'. Nach weiteren 13 Tagen muss Kerl B seine leer verkauften Aktien wieder vorweisen: die holt er natürlich vom Kerl A, usw. usf. so können 1000 Aktien ein dutzend mal preisdrückend rundum laufen...
Auch gleiches Spiel, wenn Aktie in USA und Kanada gelistet ist (Warum fällt mir da sofort Sterling ein.
Wenn die Broker bei solchen Aktivitäten mal erwischt werden, seien heute noch die Strafen wie 'eine Parkbusse für Bankraub'. Derart gibt es immer mehr Bankräuber. Oft seien Hedge -Fonds involviert.
Die 50 Minuten zuhören waren sehr aufschlussreich, das Englisch von Puplave ist nicht schnell und sehr klar gesprochen, Ostküste und nicht Texas
Ein Muss für Investoren in (besonders) Minenaktien (besonders) Juniors!!! Danke, Jim Puplava.
...nur mini Ausschnitte - da der Spiegel sonst verklagt :o
Wie Entwicklungshelfer den Tod nach Afrika bringen
Ein Kommentar von Thilo Thielke
In Afrika müsste niemand hungern. Der Hunger dort ist ein Machwerk skrupelloser Herrscher - und ihrer Freunde im Westen. Paradoxerweise sind es Entwicklungshilfeminister, die sich dem Fortschritt in den Weg stellen.
.....Und wenn die Hilfe da ist? Leiden erst einmal die Händler, denn die Lebensmittelpreise fallen ins Bodenlose. Vorratslager anzulegen, lohnt bei der gegenwärtigen Praxis also nicht. Außerdem leiden die Landwirte, denn ihre Ernte wird wertlos. Besser beraten ist folglich, wer sich in der Nähe der Helfer tummelt. Dort gibt es alles umsonst, und arbeiten muss man auch nicht......
.....Wo kommerzielle Landwirtschaft funktionierte, wie in Simbabwe, Südafrika oder Namibia, wird sie hingegen durch die Vertreibung der weißen Siedler zerstört.Die namibische Landreform wird dabei ironischerweise sogar mit deutschen Steuergeldern finanziert Bald werden auch diese Länder am Tropf des Rests der Welt hängen......
6-3-8Look around. The evidence of a withering economy is everywhere. In "good times" consumers shun the canned meat aisle altogether, but no more. Today, Spam sales are soaring; grocery stores can't keep it on the shelves. Everyone is looking for cheaper ways to feed their families. The Labor Dept. assures us that core-inflation is only 4 per cent, but everybody knows it's load of malarkey. Food prices are going through the roof. White bread is up 13 percent, bacon is up 7 percent and peanut butter is up 9 percent. Inflation is rampant and there's no end in sight. The dollar is closing in on the peso and working people are struggling just to get by. The bottom line is that more and more people in "the richest country on earth" are now surviving on processed pig-meat. That says it all.
In Santa Barbara parking lots are being converted into hostels so that families that lost their homes in the subprime fiasco can sleep in their cars and not be hassled by the cops. The same is true in LA where tent cities have sprung up around the railroad yards to accommodate the growing number of people who've lost their jobs or can't afford to rent a room on service-industry wages. It's tragic. Everywhere people are feeling the pinch; that's why 9 out of 10 Americans now believe the country is now headed in the wrong direction and that's why consumer confidence is at its lowest ebb since the Great Depression. This is the great triumph of Reagan's free trade "trickle down" Voodoo economics; whole families living out of their cars waiting for the pawn shop to open.
The economy is on life-support. The rest of the world would be doing us all a favor if they decided to chuck the dollar and boycott US financial products altogether. That would put an end to Wall Street's chicanery once and for all. Foreign investors should be demanding restitution and impounding American assets to compensate for the trillions of dollars they lost in the subprime/securitization swindle. Litigate, litigate, litigate; that's the only way to make the guilty parties pay for their crimes. Either that or set up a gallows on Wall Street and get down to business.
The pundits on the business channel are telling us that the "worst is over"; that the Force 5 hurricane in the financial markets has weakened to a squall. Don't believe it. The corporate bond market is still frozen, housing is in free fall, and the banking system is buckling from the overload of bad investments. The FDIC is even trying to lure former employees out of retirement to deal with the tsunami of bank failures set to touch down later in 2008. Corporate defaults are on the rise and and commercial real estate is crashing.
"Commercial property prices in the US in February saw their sharpest decline since records began nearly 15 years ago as sources of finance for deals has dried up, according to data from Standard & Poor's out yesterday. Sales of commercial properties were down 71 per cent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier." (Financial Times)
Commercial real estate is following the same downward trajectory as residential housing. They're both headed for the bottom of the fish-tank. Any slump in CRE will send unemployment skyrocketing while adding to the solvency problems facing the banks.
We're not out of the woods by a long shot, and won't be for years to come. According to Bloomberg News, soaring raw material costs have caused a sharp rise in costs to producers that they won't be able to pass on to cash-strapped consumers. That means that corporate profits will fall and stock values will plunge.
Last week, Oppenheimer analyst Meredith Whitney announced that:
"The real harrowing days of the credit crisis are still ahead of us and will prove more widespread in effect than anything yet seen. Just as strained liquidity pushed so many small and mid-sized specialty finance companies to the brink, we believe it will do the same to the US consumer. We believe losses will only accelerate further and far worse than the most draconian estimates."
Whitney has been one of the few consistently accurate analysts of the current market meltdown.
The fate of the larger investment banks is just as uncertain as the smaller "depository" banks. Carlyle Group Chairman David Rubenstein summed it up like this last week, "US and European banks and financial institutions have enormous losses from from bad loans they haven't yet recognized and may have a harder time wooing sovereign fund rescuers. Based on information I see, it will take at least a year before all losses are realized, and some financial institutions may fail. Many financial institutions aren't going to be able to survive as independent institutions."
That means there will be greater consolidation and more formidable banking monopolies, all of which is bad for the consumer.
The banks and financial institutions have never been in worse shape. They've already written down $344 billion since the credit crisis began last August and they'll write down another $200 billion next year. By the time the crisis is over, they will have racked up an estimated $1 trillion in losses. That represents a $3 trillion contraction in loans to consumers and businesses. Also, these estimates don't take into account the losses of revenue from the slowdown in consumer spending, shrinking GDP, and massive business failures; all of which will wreak further havoc on the financial sector.
The amount of stress on the banking system is unprecedented. The Fed is loaning out money hand-over-fist just to keep the scaffolding in place. Take a look at what is going on at the Fed's so-called "auction facilities" where the Fed is providing loans and US Treasuries for "unsellable" mortgage-backed junk and other toxic bonds. The numbers are staggering.
According to the Seattle Times:
"The Federal Reserve's emergency loans to banks climbed to the highest level on record even as Wall Street investment companies scaled back their borrowing....Banks stepped up their borrowing, according to the Fed report. They averaged $15.95 billion in daily borrowing for the week ending May 28, compared with $13.5 billion for the previous week, and the total was a record. The previous high of $14.4 billion came in the week ending May 14...In the broadest use of the central bank's lending power since the 1930s, the Fed in March scrambled to avert a market meltdown by giving investment houses a place to go for emergency overnight loans....The Fed also announced Thursday it will make a fresh batch of short-term cash loans available to banks as part of an effort to ease stressed credit markets...The Fed said it will conduct three auctions in June; each will offer $75 billion in short-term cash loans. It would mark the latest round in a program that the Fed launched in December to help banks overcome credit problems so they will keep lending to customers." ("Banks step up Fed loans, investment firms scale back", Seattle Times)
Another $225 billion?!?
The Fed is trashing its balance sheet--to the tune of $225 billion--when the money could be used to provide free college tuition and universal health care. What a waste. Instead, the money is being used to throw a lifeline to dodgy speculators would were trying to snooker foreign investors with garbage securities. At the same time, the Fed's emergency facilities have done nothing to restore trust between the individual banks who are more reluctant to lend to each other than ever. The ongoing scandal surrounding Libor (the interest rate that banks charge each other and which determines the rates on $3 trillion of financial products including mortgages) strongly suggests that the banks are lying about the true rate they are paying so the public doesn't find out how battered they really are.
Bloomberg News: "Banks routinely misstated borrowing costs to the British Bankers' Association to avoid the perception they faced difficulty raising funds as credit markets seized up."
Consumer spending is sluggish too, since lending standards have tightened and home equity continues to vanish. Subprime problems have migrated from Wall Street to Main Street as credit trends appear to be getting worse. Consumers are maxed-out on their credit cards, student loans, mortgages and car loans. The lack of personal savings is not the result of a profligate lifestyle (as the right wing media likes to opine) but 30 years of stagnant wages and class warfare waged via big business and the federal tax code. None of the baby boomers are counting on Social Security to pay the bills when they retire but, still, that doesn't justify the money being ripped-off from their paychecks every week and slipped into the general fund where it is used to pave roads and purchase cluster-bombs. Social security is nothing but a flat tax for paupers. (The rich get a free-ride after the first $87,000 income) These are some of the factors that are bearing down on an American economy like a Daisy Cutter. 2009 is looking is looking more and more like a chapter out of Revelation.
An article is this week's The Economist summarizes the malaise in housing in particularly apocalyptic terms:
"America's house prices are falling even faster than during the Great Depression. As house prices in America continue their rapid descent, market-watchers are having to cast back ever further for gloomy comparisons. The latest S&P/Case-Shiller national house-price index, published this week, showed a slump of 14.1% in the year to the first quarter, the worst since the index began 20 years ago. Now Robert Shiller, an economist at Yale University and co-inventor of the index, has compiled a version that stretches back over a century. This shows that the latest fall in nominal prices is already much bigger than the 10.5% drop in 1932, the worst point of the Depression. And things are even worse than they look. In the deflationary 1930s house prices declined less in real terms. Today inflation is running at a brisk pace, so property prices have fallen by a staggering 18% in real terms over the past year." ("The Economist")
The country is undergoing a collapsing real estate market that surpasses the Great Depression and former Fed-chief Alan Greenspan's book is still on the New York Times Best Seller list. How's that for irony?
Regrettably, there's no sign of a bottom yet in housing. Some markets have already dropped by 30% costing the states (like California and Florida) billions in tax revenue and triggering a steep increase in foreclosures. In California, sales are not only down by roughly 50 per cent, but 40 per cent of new sales are sales of foreclosed homes. The pool of potential buyers has dried up. Now the vultures are circling and picking up homes for $.50 on the dollar. The losses are enormous. If the downward trend continues, (as many now expect) and housing prices drop 30 per cent nationwide; the market will shed $6.5 trillion in aggregate value and lower household spending by $300 billion. That means GDP will shrink at least another full percentage point.
The crisis in the financial markets won't be resolved until housing prices stabilize, that's why the Fed and Congress are scrambling to put together a plan (Hope Now) that will slow the rate of foreclosures. Trillions of dollars in complex bonds and mortgage-backed securities will continue to be downgraded until investors see that it is safe to "dip their toes in the water" again and reinvest in a (currently) moribund market. So far, Congress has made little headway in keeping homeowners from defaulting on their mortgages. Credit Suisse predicts that foreclosures will be somewhere north of 6.5 million homeowners over the next few years. It is the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina sweeping from one side of the country to the other.
The next administration---whether it's McCain or Obama---will be forced to restore the Resolution Trust Corp., which was created in 1989 to dispose of assets of insolvent savings and loan banks. The RTC would create a government-owned management company that would buy distressed MBS from banks and liquidate them via auction. The state would pay less than full-value for the bonds (The Fed currently pays 85 per cent face-value on MBS) and then take a loss on their liquidation. "According to Joseph Stiglitz in his book, Towards a New Paradigm in Monetary Economics, the real reason behind the need of this company was to allow the US government to subsidize the banking sector in a way that wasn't very transparent and therefore avoid the possible resistance."
There it is; a taxpayer-funded bailout of Biblical proportions looming on the horizon, possibly as soon as 2009. Ultimately, it is the only sure-fire way to stabilize the crumbling banking system and put a floor under housing prices. The effects on the dollar, however, will be catastrophic. Don't expect the greenback to survive as the world's "reserve currency". Those days are about over.
The troubles in the financial markets will be with us for some time. The massive expansion of credit has created numerous equity bubbles that are unwinding at an unpredictable pace. Author James Howard Kunstler calls the present process "the remorseless algebra of a deflationary death spiral". That's about as close to a perfect description as imaginable. There's bound to be considerable disagreement about the origins of the bubble and who is to blame. Was it the Fed's "low interest " policy following the dot.com bust in 2000, or the lack of government regulation in the securitzation process, or was it just the natural corollary of a political system which invariably bows and scrapes to Wall Street?
The real origin of the problem is ideological. It's rooted in the prevailing "trickle down" orthodoxy which opposes any increases in wages or benefits for working people. Henry Ford realized what today's captains of industry and finance refuse to accept; that if workers aren't adequately paid for their labor---and wages do not keep pace with production---then the economy cannot grow because consumers do not have the money to buy the things they make. It's just that simple. Greenspan and his ilk believed that they could prosecute the class war and make up the difference by relaxing lending standards, changing bankruptcy laws, and by creating a nearly endless array of exotic financial products that expanded credit. But shifting wealth from one class to another has its costs. By crushing the worker the Friedmanites have killed the golden goose. The world's most prosperous consumer society is in terminal distress and no amount of "free market" gibberish will keep it from crashing.
Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control
Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors
By Patrick Cockburn Thursday, 5 June 2008
A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November
The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.
But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.
The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal.
America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military "surge" began in January 2007. Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government. The precise nature of the American demands has been kept secret until now. The leaks are certain to generate an angry backlash in Iraq. "It is a terrible breach of our sovereignty," said one Iraqi politician, adding that if the security deal was signed it would delegitimise the government in Baghdad which will be seen as an American pawn.
The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq but one Iraqi source said: "This is just a tactical subterfuge." Washington also wants control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000ft and the right to pursue its "war on terror" in Iraq, giving it the authority to arrest anybody it wants and to launch military campaigns without consultation.
....The TSA says it protects privacy by blurring passengers' faces and deleting images right after viewing Yet the images are detailed, clearly showing a person's gender. "You can actually see the sweat on someone's back," Schear said......