I report you decide: [more]
Zerohedge breaks the story here: Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/30/2009 The bloodbath at GE's propaganda station has reached critical levels: according to Nielsen, CNBC has lost 28% of viewers year over year, and 24% in the 25-54 age group category. This is obviously a stunning failure in an environment where the top stories on any other medium are finance and economy related. Maybe if they were to actually report objective news, Jeff Immelt would not have to scratch his head in wonderment, pondering how to generate ad revenue and something even remotely resembling positive cash flow. Then again what are the poor anchors to do since the infamous Immelt memo made the rounds. At least GE stock is up: and for that GE, Barney Frank and Goldman Sachs, deserve a golf clap.
Oh, and Larry, with a 46% drop, you may want to reevaluate your content strategy. [more]
NEOCON Legacy Media WSJ Front Page: Home Prices Rise Across U.S. [more]
Evil Syndicated By James Howard Kunstler
on July 27, 2009 11:00 AM By now, everyone in that fraction of the world that pays attention to something other than American Idol and their platter of TGI Friday's loaded potato skins knows that Goldman Sachs has been caught at another racket in the stock market: front-running trades. What a clever gambit, done with the help of the markets themselves - the Nasdaq in particular - in which information on trades is held back a fraction of a second from public view, while the data is shoveled to the computers of privileged subscribers who can execute zillions of programmed micro-trades before the rest of the herd makes a move. This allows them to vacuum up hundreds of millions of dollars by doing absolutely nothing of value. The old-fashioned method used by brokers was called "churning," in which stocks were bought and sold incessantly (by phone) from the portfolios of inattentive clients merely to generate commissions. In any sensible society - i.e. a society with an instinct for self-preservation - it would be against the law and the people doing it would be sent to prison.
I'm not a lawyer, but I've got to think that the actions at the Nasdaq end - shoveling the data to the privileged subscribers a fraction of a second early - is patently illegal in the first place, since the whole purpose of an exchange is to create a fair trading space. Where both parties are concerned, it should amount to a plain vanilla criminal conspiracy to commit stock trading fraud. Maybe the larger question is: since when did we become a society lacking the instinct for self-preservation - that is, a society bent on suicide? Or maybe the question is better put to Goldman Sachs's CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
Since this racket was made public, there has been chatter all over the Web about how angry the American public is about Wall Street in general, and increasingly about Goldman Sachs in particular. Nobody has summed it up better than Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, calling the company "...a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." And Taibbi's fierce article about Goldman Sachs came out weeks before this latest outrage. As we turn the corner toward autumn, President Obama looks increasingly like a dupe, a tool, or a co-conspirator of Goldman Sachs. If he doesn't instruct the Justice Department to commence investigations of the company, and if he doesn't dissociate himself from their alumni hanging around the White House, the Treasury Department, and elsewhere in the government, he's going to become the object of an awful public wrath. Obama has no other choice at this point except to clean house - to fire Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, Tim Geithner, and all other former Goldman Sachs employees in positions of power and influence around him.
Actually, it's not necessary for the whole general public to be fed up with this situation. According to the Pareto 80-20 rule, it only takes one-fifth of the public to set social actions in motion, and only one-fifth of that one-fifth to do the heavy lifting. I think we've reached that point. The sentiment is now overwhelmingly tipped against Goldman Sachs (and Wall Street generally) and the only questions are whether the President of the US ends up lumped in with them, and whether we'll see orderly prosecutions or disorderly persecutions. At this point, it even begins to look as though Mr. Obama is taking cover behind the health care reform debate to avoid answering for his government's association with Goldman Sachs.
The trouble is, if the thoughtful and trustworthy members of the "Pareto 20 percent" don't stir themselves into action over Goldman's behavior, then sooner or later the thoughtless and reckless will take over. Bill Moyers hosted a fascinating report on his most recent podcast about the savagery of right-wing broadcasting and how it had led, in one instance, to the murder of a doctor who performed abortions. What bothers me is that, sooner or later, the conduct of Goldman Sachs will lead the growing ranks of the unemployed, foreclosed, disentitled, and hopeless into the hands of a savage right wing seeking mindless vengeance, for instance, against "the Jews," (as represented by Goldman Sachs), or brown-skinned people (as embodied by a vilified president).
Readers of this blog know I'm allergic to conspiracy theories. But surveying the scene out there, it is hard to not conclude that Goldman Sachs has become the "front-runner" of a criminal syndicate defrauding US taxpayers. This isn't the first time in American history that business veered into extremely antisocial behavior on the grand scale. The last quarter of the 19th century was just as bad, with frauds, swindles, sociopathic trusts, and predatory corporations preying on people trying desperately to make an honest living. Then, one summer day in 1901, a factory drone named Leon Czolgosz stepped up to President William McKinley in a reception line at the Buffalo World's Fair and plugged him twice in the abdomen. (Czolgosz liked to think of himself as an "anarchist," a then-fashionable ideology among the simmering powerless.) Eight days later, McKinley expired and Teddy Roosevelt became president - to the extreme chagrin of the Republican business establishment - "... now that damned cowboy is in the White House!" cried Republican national leader Mark Hanna of Ohio.
He was correct to be nervous. TR turned the corporate world upside down with reform, from dismantling monopolies to establishing the cabinet departments of Commerce and Labor, to bringing the new food industry under regulation. This naturally leads me to wonder if or when Barack Obama will have his TR Moment, when he stands up to the large malign forces operating arrantly in the daily life of this nation. I get volumes of email complaining about Mr. Obama. The writers behind them seem, on the whole, crankish, cynical to an extreme, and not very trustworthy observers of the scene. But I begin to sympathize with them.
In the meantime, the US economy gives the illusion of recovery - but to what? Back to a "consumer" credit card shopping orgy? Another house-buying fiesta? I don't think so. Households are drowning in debt. They're using their credit cards, if they still can, to buy staple foods. Those are the lucky ones who still have lines of credit left. Soon, many of these families won't even amount to households because they won't have a house. There is absolutely no way we are going back to that particular bubble economy. The only bubble left is the government debt bubble, now leading to such extravagant excess that it can only end up wrecking the government, and perhaps American society with it. In the meantime, how much remaining wealth is Goldman Sachs and its cohorts vacuuming off the floor?
Also meanwhile, oil is heading back to the $70 range (with the dollar shedding basis points). That's the oil price range where the economy begins to get wrecked all over again - that is, whatever remains of the economy. That's the price range where airlines go back to the intensive care unit and citizens have to max out their credit cards to buy gasoline. We're moving toward a very hard landing and very soon.
Kunstler novel of America's post-oil future, World Made By Hand, is now available in paperback. I am at work on the sequel. [more]
Aligned with Hudson. [more]
This has been posted on multiple websites. If you do not think it is funny, then there is something funny about you! [more]
Zerohedge breaks the story: [more]
This is Congressman Alan Grayson questioning Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on $550B of loans to foreigners. [more]
Thank God for Dr Paul. This is a great three minute speach. [more]
Congresswomen Kaptur on January, 2008 C-SPAN. 25 YEAR CONGRESSWOMEN and Democrat Budget Committee Member Doesn't Know the Difference between Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve Chairman [more]
Kunstler's Is Obama Gorbachev?
The eulogy for Walter Cronkite as "the most trusted man in America" on the CBS "Sixty Minutes" show said a lot about the condition of this nation -- though it did not signify what CBS thought it did. It wasn't about the death of one hugely esteemed individual; it was about the broad institutional failure of TV news in general and the current grievous loss of legitimacy and authority in shaping a national consensus of reality. Watching the old clips of Cronkite delivering the evening news years ago, one couldn't help weighing the contrast with the current spectacle of snide, combative, overbearing idiocy acted out nightly by the likes of Kudlow, Olberman, Kneale, O'Reilly, Matthews, and Dobbs as they shout down their invited guest commentators, pander to their demographic, and diss their rivals for ratings.
It was instructive to notice that the program following "Sixty Minutes" -- in the supreme weekly slot of 8p.m. Sunday -- was a childish and stupid "reality" show called "Big Brother." This said even more about the craven quality of the people currently running CBS. It was also a useful lesson in the diminishing returns of technology as applied to television, since it should now be obvious that the expansion of cable broadcasting since the heyday of the "big three" networks has led only to the mass replication of video garbage rather than a banquet of culture, as first touted.
It should remind us more generally that when a society's operations become broadly fraudulent and unreal, authority and legitimacy wither. This is analogous to the position Barack Obama now finds himself in. He was elected as the politician most trusted in America to change the fraudulent and unreal operations of the US government. Don't bother protesting that all politics is necessarily unreal and fraudulent. If it were so, you'd have to argue that the US Constitution was wholly a fraud, as well as Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and the rest. It only has strong tendencies in that direction. (The Declaration of Independence was itself a direct strike against the fraud and unreality of British royal governance in America.)
As president, Barack Obama is faced with the essential fraudulence and unreality of the US economy. Notice that, as ominous as they are, the wars in iraq and Afghanistan have generated only minimal protest so far in the early Obama period, despite the fact that they are not operationally different from their conduct under Bush. There is no protest because, for now, a consensus exists that our troops are in these places for perceived reasons -- to keep Mideast oil supply lines open... to keep Islamic maniacs busy in their own backyard instead of on US territory... to keep Iran in a vise... to maintain the American "empire" (take your pick). There's something there to appeal to a broad majority of US voters. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq and Afstan are not perceived as out-and-out frauds.
But the economy is. Since September of 2008, when Hank Paulson began shoveling bail-outs to the very banks who screwed the world on fraudulent and unreal securities, and left American society comprehensively bankrupt, the consensus has only deepened on the perception of an historic swindle. And so far, President Obama has positioned himself as chief enabler to further swindling. One need look no further than the rulings this past spring of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) as authorized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC, an official government agency, created 1934), which have allowed the biggest banks to pretend that the fraudulent paper in their vaults does not have to be recorded as a loss on their books.
The US economy is now dying a slow and painful death because it had become based on activities that had nothing to do with producing real wealth. Instead, it became dependent on rackets, that is, behavior geared to getting something for nothing. These rackets are often summarized under the acronym FIRE (for finance, insurance and real estate), a system set up to strip-mine profits from the wish commonly labeled "the American Dream" -- itself largely a product of televised advertising and propaganda. The end product of all that was the doomed economy of suburban sprawl, an infrastructure for daily life with no future in a world defined by fossil fuel scarcity. The unraveling of debt at every level now is directly related to the mis-investments made in that way of life.
By now, it's self-evident that the "change" voted for in November's election was too horrifying to articulate. It still is. The suburban sprawl economy was all we had left. Now it's gone and we're stuck with all its deleveraging after-effects -- the worst case of "buyer's remorse" since the fall of Nazi Germany. Thus, the only "change" that President Obama can really work for is the health care system, which is a life-and-death matter. The sordid rackets so ostentatiously infecting the system boil down vividly to lives ruined and bankrupted, and a system more frightful to deal with than disease itself. Probably the baseline truth is that health care will end up being rationed one way or another. It's another prime symptom of population overshoot, and a reminder that life is tragic.
As another blogger put it so nicely last week on the web (sorry, but I forget who or where), this isn't a "recession," it's a collapse. The excellent Dmitry Orlov has outlined the process very nicely in his book "Reinventing Collapse" about the parallels between the demise of the Soviet Union and the prospects for demise of the US as currently constituted. Mikhail Gorbachev presided over the Soviet collapse. He must have been a leader of very subtle abilities. Not only did he survive to enjoy a busy second act of life with a Nobel Prize in his pocket, but he accomplished a nearly bloodless transition in a society long-conditioned to bloodletting as the primary political act.
Here in the USA, where we have had over two hundred years experience with peaceful power transitions -- even during the convulsions of 1860-65 -- the outcome this time might not be so appetizing. It would be one of the supreme ironies of history if it turned out that the US was incapable of ending its most self-destructive rackets peacefully and bloodlessly, while the Russians shucked off its Soviet racket like an old sweater. The way I see it, Mr. Obama just doesn't have much time before his authority and legitimacy slough off and he is left with only his genial smile. The "hope" vested in him will end up in a Museum of Lost Hopes, along with the integrity of TV news and the rectitude of the medical profession. And funding for that museum will be cut by President Sarah Palin, representing Naziism US style -- i.e. Naziism without the brains.
Post script and Comments here: [more]
This might be a repost, but whatever, it should be seen and forwarded to millions. [more]
MY COMMENT: Are the most reliable source of corperate US news the Comedy Channels / Onion? [more]
And for proof of the decline in the economy, all one needs to do is look at the earnings of the S&P500, the 500 biggest corporations in America, which are down to a measly $6.86 in earnings, down from last year's $84, which, with a current price of $896 for the index, gives a laughable P/E ratio of 130 for the S&P500! Hahaha! "Invest for the long-term by buying stocks that are so ridiculously overpriced that it makes you laugh so hard that it would make Graham and Dodd pee in their pants!" Hahaha! [more]
The difference between an immigrant and refugee...is timing. [more]
MY COMMENT: IMO, Fred Reed is one of Americas leading philosophers. I have read every one of his blog posts, and all were worth reading. He is a former Marine, who lost an eye in Vietnam, wrote for SoF, world traveler and was a DC police reporter. He has been there done that.... [more]
I have written about several of these paid lairs before. During the Bull Market in 06-07, it did not seem as apparent how inept / corrupt etc... these "guru" were. Now it is obvious. [more]
Taking a break today from market discussion, to try and reach some common ground in Fooldom. [more]
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."
-Thomas Jefferson [more]
There were five very famous bears on TV, on Friday. I posted the videos. David Tice interview provides the most clarity.
Although I am the #1 Top Underperform Member, I make most of my money being Long stocks. Fooldom knows about the current Bull Market, because I told you several times over the last 8 months, back when the stocks were 80-100% cheaper. [more]
Today was an absolutely amazing News Day, I would guess only because Americans were on travel the Legacy Media, decided to give the Truth Tellers some "air time". [more]
The Man in the Mirror By James Howard Kunstler
on June 29, 2009 6:01 AM
As America entered the horse latitudes of summer, befogged in a muffling stillness on deceptively calm seas, we were distracted for a while by visions of a pale death angel moonwalking across the deck of collective consciousness. Eerie parallels resound between the sordid demise of pop singer Michael Jackson and the fate of the nation.
Like the United States, Michael Jackson was spectacularly bankrupt, reportedly in the range of $800-million, which is rather a lot for an individual. Had he lived on a few more years, he might have qualified for his own TARP program -- another piece of expensive dead-weight down in the economy's bilges -- since it is our established policy now to throw immense sums of so-called "money" at gigantic failing enterprises (while millions of ordinary citizens wash overboard, without so much as a life-preserver). Anyway, Michael Jackson was on the receiving end of one huge bank loan after another long after his pattern of profligacy was set and obvious. They threw money at him for the same reason that the federal government throws money at entities like CitiBank: the desperate hope that some miracle will allow debt servicing to resume. Michael could burn through $50-million in half a year. It didn't seem to affect his credibility as a borrower. When his heart stopped last week, he was living in a Hollywood mansion that rented for several hundred thousand dollars a month. You wonder how the landlord cashed those checks.
Like the USA, Michael Jackson was a has-been. He hadn't recorded a song worth listening to in over two decades. He had done almost nothing but spin his wheels, hop around the globe from one place to another at enormous expense, and make himself available for award ceremonies to stoke his ego (and give advertisers a reason to promote some televised award show). He existed strictly on image, an anorectic figure nourished by moonbeams of attention, famous for saying that he loved his worshippers when the truth was he merely sucked the life out of them. In his last years, he even looked a bit like Nosferatu, the personification of the un-dead, and his fascination with ghouls was the basis for his biggest hit way back in the last century. A zombie nation deserves a zombie mascot.
He was a poseur, vamping in weird military outfits as though he were a five-star general in the Honduran army, or a character from a melodrama by the reprobate Jean Genet. He once materialized during halftime at the Superbowl in a shower of sparks, thrilling the multitudes while grabbing and stroking his sex organs, as though that was a heroic activity -- and indeed the nation seemed to emulate him as its culture became dedicated more and more to acting out masturbation fantasies. America was a fat man j-rking off on the sofa watching a vampire of no particular s-x vogue deliriously on the boob tube.
More than once the authorities tried to pin charges of child molestation on him for suspicious activities at his boy-trap, Neverland Ranch, with its carnival rides, private zoo, video game galleries, and inexhaustible supplies of sugary treats. The first time he settled with the alleged victim's family for $22-million. They just walked away with the loot and happily shut up. The second time, he moonwalked out of a court-of-law while weeks later jurors mysteriously went on TV to say, well, they did kind of think after-the-fact that he really did those things he was accused of, but, you know.... The defendant himself behaved as though his trial were a TV celebrity challenge show on another planet, arriving on one occasion twenty minutes late in pajamas with some lame excuse about a backache. He spent the last years of his life wandering a few steps ahead of his creditors, gulling concert promoters into "comeback" schemes (with walking-around money up front), and with three bought-and-paid-for children, obviously not his own, for consolation. [more]