Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Night Weekly Close

The sun actually has made an appearance this evening. Might get a reasonable weekend after all. I need to cut the new lawn for the first time so I need it to dry out a little. Very long week at work, so I am a little burned out. Some quick hits and then the usual Friday festivities.

Audit the FED Bill Set to Pass
I have to say that when the Ron Paul bill that will set an audit for the FED first started to circulate I figured it was just another waste of time trying to get something done. All across the blogosphere the bill was given free press and it seems enough people actually made calls, signed petitions, and made enough noise that the House felt it in their best interests to get on board! I am pleasantly surprised indeed:
Audit the Fed Bill Reaches Crucial Benchmark
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Ron Paul's Federal Reserve Transparency Act, HR 1207, has reached and surpassed the level of 218 cosponsors in the House of Representatives, which means it is now cosponsored by a majority of the members.
The 218th cosponsor was Dennis Kucinich (OH-10), and the bill has since received its 222nd cosponsor.
“The tremendous grass-roots and bipartisan support in Congress for HR 1207 is an indicator of how mainstream America is fed up with Fed secrecy,” said Congressman Paul. “I look forward to this issue receiving greater public exposure.”
Hearings on Federal Reserve transparency are expected within the next month, as part of the Financial Services Committee's series of hearings on regulatory reform.
Now this of course is no guarantee the Senate will pass this version without making it toothless, or if president Obama would ever sign such a bill. For now, it is enough this thing is going ahead and I thank all that helped to make that so.

Deleveraging: It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
In this corner from the inflation (or even hyperinflation) camp we have an essay from Bill Bonner, a very sharp market observer known for his bearishness and also running The Daily Reckoning site. In this article Mr. Bonner presents a compelling reason for inflation to run high going forward (excerpts):
Two Ways to Deleverage an Economy
The dumb money is fairly easy to spot. It’s the money that always shows up late to the party, wearing yesterday’s fashions. It watches TV and thinks the reality shows show reality…it thinks Ben Bernanke is a great economist…that the SEC protects investors from fraud and misrepresentation…and that Tim Geithner makes sure the economy keeps running smoothly.
It’s the dumb money that thinks you can correct a generation-long period of credit growth in 24 months…with less than 10% unemployment…
Stocks have now been in a rally for three months. The longer this goes on, of course, the dumber money gets. People come to think the bounce is a permanent bull market...

House prices are still going down – but not as fast. Still, big resets, defaults and foreclosures are still on the way – in prime and Alt-A mortgages.
Meanwhile, when companies don’t sell…they don’t ship either.
The trucking industry says traffic is off 13% from a year before – the biggest drop in 13 years.
Airplanes are carrying 21% less cargo. And the commercial airline industry says it is losing $9 billion this year.
As for shipping…well, don’t even bring it up. Shipping has been in a catastrophic slump since last year – with cargo rates down 90%.

Obvious conclusion:
“Every smart trader I know is massively short the stock market,” says Jeff Clark...

All that takes time. And betting against deleveraging is probably not a smart thing to do. Not until it’s over…which is not until the leverage built up in the bubble era has been removed. And with total debt levels at 370% of GDP…and the government adding even more debt…we’re a long way from there.
But what do you do, dear reader? Buy Treasuries in anticipation of another crash in stocks? Or mortgage your house, long-term fixed-rate, in anticipation of fed-caused inflation?
Ah, there’s the tough question. We know where the dumb money is…but where’s the smart money? Jeff Clark says it’s short stocks. But there’s some very smart money that is betting that the government will turn this around. They’re putting their money on inflation…or even hyperinflation. Our old friend, Marc Faber, for example, says he is sure the United States is headed for hyperinflation. If so, shorting stocks may not be such a shrewd move. Stocks could soar too – as investors try to buy anything and everything that didn’t have dollar signs on it.

You see, there are two ways to deleverage an economy.
The obvious way is the traditional, honest way – in which people actually try to pay their debts. This causes the problems we see as falling asset prices, bankruptcies, joblessness and the other hallmarks of a Great Depression.
But the feds have their hearts set on preventing a depression. And they’re doing it the only way they can…by the old “hair of the dog” technique. The economy suffers from too much debt – so they’re going to give it more! Much more. The whole pooch! The whole kennel! Then, they round up every stray mongrel in town. What happens when they run out of dogs? Well…that’s a discussion for another day.
We have had many laughs following the feds and their war against capitalism. They’re gambling an amount nearly equal to the entire U.S. GDP to try to prevent people from getting what they have coming. In the process, they’re almost certain to make a mess of things.
The smart money is betting that they fail to stop deleveraging. But the very smart money is betting that they create a new, worse problem – inflation, maybe hyperinflation. Inflation reduces the real value of debt…but in a perverse and unpredictable way. Debtors don’t pay their bills; savers pay them. Inflation – like bailouts – rewards the least responsible players…those who have gotten themselves heavily in debt…and punishes those who have done the “right” thing. As Germany saw in the ’20s, it de-stabilizes the whole society…leading to extremely unwelcome outcomes.

Mr. Bonner shares my reasons for thinking inflation is on the way, specifically the FED has made it abundantly clear that is preferred to deflation. One can argue that the FED really cannot stop deflation, and I certainly find that quite possible, but I think they will succeed.

Mr. Practical at His Best
Minyanville writer Mr. Practical is about the best there is when it comes to macro writing. As I wrote above that I lean towards the inflation scenario, Mr. practical takes the opposite view. His entire article it tonight's (or over the weekend) must read, and I encourage you to read it all. I will try to present the key points below, but the entire piece should be read:
Velocity of Money Comes to a Standstill
...Some are buying stocks because they fear inflation. Inflation is a falling dollar. When the dollar falls it tends to drive prices up. But we can see that prices of necessities are going up while prices of discretionary things are going down. This is natural as disposable income falls and the savings rate rises...
Additionally, I think they don't quite understand how "inflation" is created. To "inflate" or devalue the dollar precipitously, you need a fractional banking system to lend money and consumers to borrow it. Without that you have no multiplier effect.
With mortgage rates up 100 basis points in 2 weeks (as a result of trying desperately to print enough money to reflate), and with a now required 20% down, few people can afford a mortgage given their negative equity and high debt. The money "supply" is egregious (the government bailing out banks and stuffing them with cash), but the velocity of money has come to a standstill (people aren't in any shape to borrow it)...
I heard a Fed official say that a jobless recovery is possible. I suppose it is, but I will tell you it can only occur if productivity is rising. So while not lying, he isn't telling the truth, or he doesn’t understand it. Berries call productivity higher when it is driven by leverage.
The US economy has a serious problem, one which I've talked about many times: too much debt. The government is merely trying to shift financial debt (forget consumer debt) to public debt. They're merely shifting the costs from us to our children. Today’s politician seeks short-term solutions at the expense of the long term.

Again, very persuasive for the deflation camp.

I do not think that the inflation vs. deflation debate need be a Jedi vs. Sith kind of death match. It is far from clear which will win out, and I have no doubt most observers are very interested in the future of the country.

If pressed, here is my objection to the deflation thesis:
-Right now the velocity of money is almost stopped. Right now. I am thinking of the millions of recently foreclosed on homeowners that are going to get armed to the teeth with new credit by an inflationary government and what I see is a huge number of them ready to "get back" to where they were. Deflation assumes people will have learned the debt lesson, but I have no such illusions.

-Last night I presented a great piece that covered the last 4 "reserve currencies" and their ultimate ends. In every case there came a point that the reserve country went too far, and things fell apart relatively quickly. Think along those lines as wee see deficits in the trillions and the number one priority for this government is another 1 trillion dollar health care program. Priorities anyone? Creditors are seeing this too.

-The debt load the US is carrying is just to big. At some point creditors are going to pull out the calculator and see they will not get paid back for around 300 years and they will wake up. Not today, not next week, and maybe not next year but they will. At the point of recognition the only resort for the US will be devaluation and paying debt with cheaper dollars.

Feel free to make your arguments in the comments. This debate is not going away anytime soon!

Friday Night Entertainment
Not sure how many of you really like this section, but I have a great time doing it so here we go.

LOL Cats for the Kids
Loyal reader Watchtower's daughter loves the little kitties, and so do I. Click on pics if they appear cropped for larger view.

This computer is password protected:
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

This is why you NEVER put an animal inside a gift box:
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Film Clips
A little while back Stagflationary Mark and I were exchanging lines from the film "Better Off Dead". Here is the scene where Charles discovers the street value of "Pure Snow":


In honor of David Carridine, enjoy his role in Kill Bill 2. Here he has a conversation with his former apprentice Bud (Michael Madsen) about the vengeful Black Mamba. I cannot believe he sold his Honzo sword!!!!:

Rock Blogging
What time is it? It is time to unleash the music! It is also 7:45pm eastern time as of writing!

Loyal reader Kevin requested Ten Years After and "I'd Love to Change the World" and the funny thing was I LOVE this song but no idea who sang it! Thanks Kevin for the request and the information, great pick!:

One of my favorite Creedence Clearwater Revival songs is "Porterville". Sadly all versions are "embebd disabled". Through the magic of Youtube I found a cover of the song by a lady singer and her band that is totally awesome so take a listen:

Heard this one in the car on the way home today, looked down about half way through the song and saw almost triple digits on the speedometer!! Oops! Enjoy Billy Idol rocking out with "Dancing with Myself":

Last call, grab a drink!

Closing the show with a ripper, so rock out with "Rainbow in the Dark" by Dio:

Have a good night.


watchtower said...

Billy Idol rules!
I usually have that song plus "Catch My Fall" and "Flesh for Fantasy" on my MP3 player for mountain bike riding, as a matter of fact I could probably put a greatest hits album of Idol on the MP3 and be happy but life is short and there is a lot of good music out there.

getyourselfconnected said...

Billy was "Da bomb"!

Anonymous said...


We're having the annual bluegrass festival here tomorrow and I'm ready for that.

On the inflation deflation front I guess I'm in the deflation camp at least for the next few years.


getyourselfconnected said...

be sure to hear some steel guitar, one of my favorite instruments (think Country Roads by John Denver). Banjo's, when well played, are also very good. Thanks for coming by.

watchtower said...

I never thought I'd admit this but I actually like the banjos in my wife's favorite country band i.e. Keith Urban, plus the scene out of "Deliverance" where the kid and that one guy are going at it via guitar and banjo is awesome.
I think it is called "dueling banjos" although I don't understand why considering it was a banjo and guitar.

It's Saturday!
1. Mountainbiking this morning.
2. Then taking my wife and daughter to an ice cream parlor by the lakes in the Mustang.
3. And if any time is left I'm going to hit this secluded pond up for some largemouth bass fishing in the late evening.

It's good to be alive!

GawainsGhost said...

Well, as to the whole inflation-deflation debate, what I think is going on is the final argument, at least until the next one, between competing and conflicting economic theories. Frankly, it's a three-ring circus.

In one corner, we have the Keynesians. In another, we have the Monetarists. And in yet another, we have the Austrians.

I lean toward the latter camp myself, being a huge fan of Hayek and Von Mises. But I seriously doubt we'll see a resolution to this debate in the near future, if ever, because the participants are so thoroughly wedded to their premises they can't see the forest for the trees.

Lost in all this is Irving Fisher's theory of the cause of a depression as debt deflation following a credit expansion. I think his work deserves much consideration, because he made a fortune in the 1920s, lost it all in the Great Crash, then sat down and asked, what happened? He examined his premises, re-evaluated his conclusions, and came up with wholly different ones.

That's the way it's done. A lot of people have no idea what a theory really is. It's a hypothesis supported by experimental evidence. But when new evidence emerges that contradicts the hypothesis, any theory, no matter how firmly entrenched, must be discarded, and a new theory formed. This is elementary science.

1. Identify the problem
2. Propose a hypothesis
3. Perform experiments
4. Analyze data
5. Confirm or reject hypothesis; form theory

The problem is that most theorists (read economists, or dismal scientists) do not follow the scientific method. Neither do the theorists in other "sciences." They are too caught up in their own foregone conclusions that no amount of contradictory evidence can convince them to change their minds. I call this phenomenon petrified thought patterns.

And that's where we are today. We have all these conflicting hypotheses and all this contradictory evidence, but no one is willing to reach the logical conclusion that a theory is only as good as the evidence that supports it. So we just keep arguing about everything.

But, you know, it's like I always say. God created economists to make astrologers look good.

To my mind, we are in a deflationary period now. I've been working on this price opinion for a new assignment we got last week.

Nice house in a gated community. 2-story, formals, tile and wood floors, fully equipped kitchen, granite countertops, 3 bed, walk-in closets, 3.5 bath (double vanity, garden tub with jets, separate shower in the master suite), 2600+ sf, 2-car garage, large lot with an iron fence.

Problem is I don't think it's ever been lived in. The appliances have never been used--the oven still has tape over it! Either it was bought by an investor who could not find a renter and lost it, or this was a phantom sale.

This house sold for $355,000 in 06. The only comps in the immediate area indicate a value of maybe $250,000. That's a loss of over $100,000 in three years! I mean, really, it's not a Buick.

We can argue economics all day long, but I think the fundamental cause of this financial crisis was the prevalence of fraud. And that doesn't factor into any econometric formula I've come across.

There can be no doubt we are experiencing deflation now. Will inflation follow? Absolutely, because the Fed is deliberately trying to cause it.

However, without productivity and employment, there will be no recovery, only misery and depression.

Anonymous said...

New credit? Dude, you are making the assumption that these theoretical borrowers will be *eligible* for credit. Why would anybody lend money to a person who has defaulted? You might argue a government override here, but the scandal of wasted tax dollars would be too much for even this profligate nation to bear. Credit deflation is on the rise. Please point out where you see the contrary to this?

What makes you think the debt load that the US is carrying is too big? One need merely look at what happened in Japan to refute such an idea. Japan tried their damndest to devalue the Yen and, 18 years later, they are *still* failing at it. Obviously, somebody loves Yen even though Japan would appear to have insurmountable problems. Jah?

Furthermore, we are THE nuclear hegemon. As such, we can bear debt levels beyond your wildest imaginings. And we will.

Anonymous said...


That was a very good.

Money and credit aren't the same thing.

To get the hyperinflation Bernake is going about it all wrong as the problem is too much debt by the public in a system that is based on consumption. Until the money he is printing gets into the hands of the public who would spend it along with paying off debts more then likely I don't see it. That would take a helicopter drop on the consumers themselves.
Giving it to the insolvent banks if there is no desire to borrow isn't going to cut it.
The banks are now using the taxpayer largesses to ramp up the stock market but in order for the public to access that money they have to sell into the banks ramp job. Driving commodities to the moon on dollar debasement hyperinflation fears will put out it's own fire once a certain price is hit and their is no money or increasing wages in the consumers hands just like when gas was over $4, the consumer cocoons and shuts off spending for all but the necessities which are eating up what disposable income they have.
I see the currency ramp in oil prices doing the same thing that happened the last time with similar results on this time unemployment is much higher.

Sometime time next year Obama will be adding an airline to his growing bailout portfolio.

GawainsGhost said...

Thanks, Kevin.

getyourselfconnected said...

try senkos for the bass (gary yamamoto baits) they are deadly!
Great content with your post, you are a natural.
people were not "eligible" for credit the last time either, so that should not stop anything this time.
Going out to the beach for some lobsters and steamers, but great debate all. This issue is certainly not going to be resolved soon so we can go back and forth quite a bit!

Anonymous said...

Credit busts are followed by tighter lending. Persons once eligible to borrow beyond their means can't do that now. If you follow CR, you know this. The days of lettuce pickers buying mansions are over and I haven't seen a single news article to the contrary. Hell, the government has been promising to "fix" all kinds of mortgages for these borrowers. So, there you have the one entity that wants to hand out money and even they are failing. The numbers of "rescued" mortgages from Uncle Sam are trivial.

It takes years for failed creditors to clean-up their credit records. In the meantime, deflation as described by Mr. Practical is a lock.

Enjoy the beach, perhaps you will find lobsters at a discounted (deflated) price.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Something Silver ThIs Way Comes!

The United States Postal Service has performed its job "sterlingly" well this week!

Thanks for the silver coin. That's one ounce permanently out of the silver market. My giirlfriend thinks I should consider it lucky and keep it in my pocket. Like THAT'S going to happen! I don't even wear a watch most days.

If I kept all the sentimental trinkets with me since the day I'd been born, I'd probably need to carry a purse! Hahaha!

Stagflationary Mark said...


"The problem is that most theorists (read economists, or dismal scientists) do not follow the scientific method. Neither do the theorists in other "sciences." They are too caught up in their own foregone conclusions that no amount of contradictory evidence can convince them to change their minds. I call this phenomenon petrified thought patterns."

I hear that. In general, economists seem very polarized. Polarized economists offer more entertainment value on TV no doubt.

"Well, as to the whole inflation-deflation debate, what I think is going on is the final argument, at least until the next one, between competing and conflicting economic theories. Frankly, it's a three-ring circus."

Here's my version of your three-ring circus idea.

Let's say a free throw shooter has a 50% chance to make the shot.

The economists would be divided into three polarized (arrogant) rings.

1. Those who are sure he will make it (the bulls).
2. Those who are sure he won't (the bears).
3. Those who are sure he'll make 0.5 points. Hahaha!

I've felt that we're trying to combine the deflationary Great Depression with the inflationary 1970s. The "average" consensus is for tame inflation going forward (as seen in the 20 year inflation expectations using TIPS spreads). That to me, is like saying the free throw shooter makes exactly 0.5 points.

That's why I loaded up on I-Bonds starting in 2000. During deflation, they can't earn negative interest. Great deflation protection. During inflation, the appreciation is tied to the CPI. Since they also grow tax deferred for up to 30 years, that's pretty good inflation protection.

I-Bonds are not the best investment if you are "sure" you know what will happen though. Fortunately, I was very unsure and am not a believer in "sure things".

The I-Bonds I bought in 2000 have gained 75% so far. They have vastly underperformed gold. They have vastly outperformed the stock market and real estate. I cannot complain. The government can though. They've pushed the real yields on I-Bonds bought today down to just 0.1% and lowered the amount we can buy during a calendar year by nearly 85%.

Stagflationary Mark said...


"To get the hyperinflation Bernake is going about it all wrong as the problem is too much debt by the public in a system that is based on consumption. Until the money he is printing gets into the hands of the public who would spend it along with paying off debts more then likely I don't see it. That would take a helicopter drop on the consumers themselves."

I bought 32 items (gallon of milk, 27 yogurts, 4 frozen sausage packs) on sale at QFC for just $14.99.

I bought 52 items (12 Hamburger/Tuna Helpers, 6 Kraft BBQ, 14 6-oz Jello, 10 Prego sauce, 8 frozen Green Giant vegetables, 2 1.5 quart Breyer's ice cream) on sale at Safeway for just $59.22.

At $70+ oil prices no less! I agree with you. "Trickle Down Economics" isn't creating hyperinflationary conditions. Further, there was similar income, credit, and savings inequality heading into the Great Depression.

And lastly, this is what I was told when I bought all that stuff.

"Throwing a big party?"

GawainsGhost said...

Here is your absolute must see video of the day.

Anonymous said...


I hear you on the "Throwing a big party" response.

You've never been in line behind my wife at Wall Mart.

My wife's mom who is still alive was a child grew up during the great depression. It was not good times for their family and the effects from that event on her were a save everything, nothing gets thrown away, buy in bulk on sales, mentality which naturally also translated in those actions even now.
My wife unfortunately or fortunately as the case may prove to be has those same traits.
I have 4 freezers in my basement, along with a pantry that would feed us along with my daughters family of 5 who live a couple of blocks from us for probably a year if that became necessary without buying anything.

My wife who is the PR and community service person for us as I'm more of a recluse (opposites do attract by the way) also volunteers at the local non-profit thrift store and also the local food pantry once in awhile. The people in this metropolis of 600 call that thrift store our local Wall Mart as the closest real Wall Mart is 200 miles away. Like I told you being my wife has the same qualities that she learned from her mother I think it's safe to say we could start our own thrift store.

I had an interesting to me anyway conversation with on of the player at that bluegrass festival who is a professor at Clemson University and I've had conversations with in the past, he teach on Eco-agriculture and during that conversation bee's came up and he said it wasn't his field. When it came to what is going on in the economy, markets, and politics he didn't have a clue.

After I though about that today that is one of the problems the US has, we have became a nation of specialist with most people having limited or no knowledge of anything outside of their own field except maybe a few hobbies and when it comes to anything else even tough it maybe incorrect it's because some specialist told them that's how it works.
That professor also said I was a thinker and I took that as a complement even though I still could open his eyes to what is really going on. Comfortably numb.


Anonymous said...


I ment to type, I still couldn't open his eye's.


getyourselfconnected said...

some great analysis on a Saturday night no less! I may have to do a Sunday wrap up as there are some items I am following that have made some news. Great stuff all!
Glad the silver eagle made the journey! Enjoy it. Those air tite containers can be a pain to open if you want to hold the coin so be careful.

Anonymous said...

I found this to be a very interesting reader thought on the Zero Hedge blog.

Tyler does say only one person runs this site however.

GYSC also adds to this search for the truth rather then what is being sold to JQ Public threw the MSM.

Thanks for your efforts here GYSC.


GawainsGhost said...

This makes for an interesting read.

Stagflationary Mark said...


"I had an interesting to me anyway conversation with..."

I found your entire comment interesting! From hoarding to Wal-Mart to conversations with specialists.

If you (or anyone else) are so inclined there is a book called, "Now, Discover Your Strengths." I am usually very skeptical of self help books but my sister got if for me as a present years ago.

The premise of the book is to avoid your weaknesses and instead concentrate on your strengths. The book claims there are 34 strengths based on interviews of 2 million people over the years. My strengths are apparently learner, analytical, maximizer, consistency, and focus. Put together, I'd say it makes for a decent hoarder in this environment, but you are far ahead of me!

One thing I am not is an achiever, much to my mom's surprise. I worked VERY hard in the working world simply because I was focusing on maximizing my early retirement. I'm now a full time slacker, lol. Positivity and belief are other missing traits. Go figure! Adaptability was a trait that I would have guessed I had, but it makes sense that I don't. I rarely live in the moment. I try very much to avoid having to adapt (think Apocalypse Pantry!).

Here's a quote from the "focus" section.

"Where am I headed?" you ask yourself. You ask this question every day.

The book knows me. Seriously. I'm also trying to "analyze" why I am in this hand basket and "learn" a way out of it, lol. ;)

P.S. If you do get the book, don't buy it used. It's an online test and you need a valid code from the book to take it.

Stagflationary Mark said...


"Those air tite containers can be a pain to open if you want to hold the coin so be careful."

Hahaha! The first thing I did was open it of course. That went well. That being said, could not get the coin out. It's stuck in one of the halves. So close and yet so far, lol.

Advice? Don't want to damage the plastic or the coin.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Popped right out today. Go figure!

getyourselfconnected said...

Glad it came out. Usually I just put the thing in sunlight to warm the plastic and then the coin will pop out. If you keep the coin out it will get some tarnish over time that you can clean easily enough.

As far as coins my favorites are the Mexican Silver Libertads, especially the 2oz size. I was able to procure a couple of 2005 2oz coins, of which only 1200 were minted for that year so they have value above the silver content. Basically I just love silver!

Plenty of great stuff in the comments, I will work on a summary post this evening.

Take care all.

Anonymous said...


"I worked VERY hard in the working world simply because I was focusing on maximizing my early retirement. I'm now a full time slacker"

Me too, now all I'm working for is to keep it that way. This is proving to be a lot more of a challenge as the days go by but a heck of a lot more fun and interesting.


Anonymous said...

WASHINGTON, June 14 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday will unveil its long-awaited plan to tighten U.S. financial regulation, marking a test of its resolve to seize political opportunity and face down powerful interests.

Banks and financial firms are pushing hard in Washington to soften the plan, which has been under debate for six months in response to a severe credit crisis and a deep recession that is already going a long way toward reshaping capital markets.

"Political realities on Capitol Hill, where the industry is deeply entrenched and lawmakers protect their turf, have already tempered some approaches for bringing the antiquated U.S. regulatory system into the 21st century"

"Political realities on Capitol Hill" is the midias PC way of puting the politicians are a bunch of bought and paid for prostitutes.

One year on one of my annual job performance report cards my boss put on it I sometimes expressed myself with very little tact. The politicians won't change and neither will I.