WC Varones

Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

Time to go home

We at the WCV Blog have long opposed the Bush-Obama military adventurism in Afghanistan.  We should have declared victory in 2002 and gone home.

Now it seems an overwhelming majority of the American public agrees (which would seem to make Ron Paul's "fringe" foreign policy not so "fringe").
Support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low with the majority of Americans saying the U.S. should withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan before the 2014 deadline set by the Obama administration, according to a new poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Friday indicated only 25% of Americans favored the war in the Asian country. A majority of Republicans voiced opposition to it, for the first time since the war began in 2001.
I hope this change in public sentiment is the beginning of the end of America's self-destructive global military empire.

Please consider the following video from Michael Franti & Spearhead.

Friday night tunes

Here's one mailman who won't crap in your yard: mailman-turned-singer/songwriter John Prine.  This song has been in my head since I first heard it on a little indie radio station around 1995.

You can hear it as a libertarian live-and-let-live groove.  If you want to.

Don't buy Mega Millions tickets

Two weeks ago, we noted that Mega Millions was becoming a good bet.  With no winners since, the jackpot has become much richer -- it's now estimated at $640 million.  So you should buy tickets, right?

Not quite.  To put the odds in your favor, you want a big jackpot and a relatively small number of tickets sold for the current draw, so if you win, you're not splitting the jackpot with one or more other tickets.  The last few draws would have been an excellent time to buy tickets: a $363 million jackpot most recently ($261m cash value), and not a lot of tickets sold for each draw.  No one else hit, so if you'd bought the winning ticket, you'd have kept it all to yourself.

You can get a rough idea for the number of tickets sold in each draw by looking at the change in jackpot size.  The current cash value is $462 million at the time of this writing (and likely to go even higher by the time of the draw tonight).  The cash value is 72% of the headline jackpot (this used to be around 50% before Zimbabwe Ben destroyed the time value of money with 0% interest rates, but that's another story).  So you can back into prior jackpots' cash values by multiplying the headline jackpot by 0.72.

The current cash value of $462 million is an increase of $201 million over the last drawing's $261 million.  So how many tickets have been sold?  I haven't seen the exact payout percentage for Mega Millions, but most lotteries, including the California Lottery which participates in Mega Millions, are very close to 50%.  And while Mega Millions has smaller prizes, the vast majority of the payout is in the big jackpot.  So a pretty good approximation is that for every $1 increase in cash payout size, two $1 tickets have been sold.  The $201 million increase for this drawing implies that around 400 million tickets have been sold.  400 million tickets in a 1-in-175-million drawing means there's a pretty good chance two or three other people already have winning tickets.  After taxes, if you win, you would very likely end up with less than $100 million.

That's a losing bet.

Details on Robert and Karilyn Bales' mortgage hell

Earlier this month, we posted on the financial problems of accused mass murderer Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Now the full-time journalists at the Seattle Times fill in the details.
Records show the couple's financial dilemma accelerated in 2006, when Karilyn Bales refinanced their four-bedroom Lake Tapps home — and an Auburn duplex she owned before she married Robert — all on the same day through Paramount Equity Mortgage. With Robert deployed, she signed the paperwork.

The California lender, which Washington state regulators previously had accused of deceptive practices, put her into two loans considered "subprime," with high interest rates, prepayment penalties, and balloon payments, records show.

In all, the couple borrowed more than $500,000 as the housing market was nearing its historic implosion. Their homes now have a combined assessed value of $358,000.
Robert Bales was no angel. But as the war machine was chewing him up and spitting him out, the banksters were doing the same thing to his family back home.

Supreme Court re-discovers Constitution

... frighteningly, though, only by a 5-4 margin.

The other 4 justices literally want to give Congress totalitarian power over your life.

Greenspan's Body Count: Charles D. Candler

It's curious, how someone who lived so dishonorably suddenly decided to take the honorable way out:
On the afternoon of March 1, Charles D. (C.D.) Candler, 67, drove into Greenwood Cemetery on Tazewell Pike and shot himself to death, according to Knoxville Police Department investigators.

The next day, federal agents swarmed over his office, home to a shadowy operation that neighboring businesses say was never open to the public and had only paper signs on its door.

Investors from Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky have told the News Sentinel that they have lost heavily in a mortgage investment scheme by Benchmark Capital Inc., a Knoxville firm linked to Candler.

They said they invested money from the equity in their home with the understanding that their remaining mortgage payments would be paid by Benchmark, and that the investors would also receive dividend income.
Greenspan's Body Count stands at 212.

Obama 1995 interview sheds light on 2012 campaign strategy

Obama 1995:
In an environment of scarcity, where the cost of living is rising, folks begin to get angry and bitter and look for scapegoats. Historically, instead of looking at the top 5% of this country that controls all the wealth, we turn towards each other, and the Republicans have added to the fire.
What better way to test his thesis than run deficits of 10% of GDP, have Bernanke monetize his debt, devaluing the dollar and ramping the price of gasoline to $4? I wonder if he'll get away with blaming "the rich?"

Mike "Mish" Shedlock demolishes Zimbabwe Ben and his sycophants

Yes, it's shooting fish in a barrel. And yes, we've done it here in these pages quite often.

But the thorough beatings given to Bernanke and his drooling sycophants today by Mike Shedlock are well worth reading, just in case we ever get the urge to give supreme powers to clueless central planners like Bernanke ever again.

Part I

Part II

Jim the Realtor and ReasonTV

Like chocolate and peanut butter.

Robert Bales was a con artist and petty criminal long before murder spree

Before he signed up for Team America: World Police, mass murderer Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was a Midwest con artist:
Robert Bales, the staff sergeant accused of massacring Afghan civilians, enlisted in the U.S. Army at the same time he was trying to avoid answering allegations he defrauded an elderly Ohio couple of their life savings in a stock fraud, according to federal documents reviewed by ABC News.

"He robbed me of my life savings," Gary Liebschner of Carroll, Ohio told ABC News.

Financial regulators found that Bales "engaged in fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, unauthorized trading and unsuitable investments," according to a report on Bales filed in 2003. Bales and his associates were ordered to pay Liebschner $1,274,000 in compensatory and punitive damages but have yet to do so, according to Liebschner.

"We didn't know where he was," Liebschner told ABC News. "We heard the Bahamas, and all kinds of places."
So the Army apparently welcomed him in to hide out from the law. He also had incidents of domestic violence and hit-and-run in his background.

Such are the standards the once-proud American military has sunk to in its quest for more warm bodies to perform the grunt work of global occupation. This is what a dying empire looks like.

Should you play the Mega Millions lottery?

UPDATE 3/30: Don't buy!

With the Mega Millions jackpot up to $241 million, is it worth buying a ticket? $1 for a 1-in-175,711,536 chance at $241 million sounds like a winning bet.

But not so fast.  The $241 million is only if you take the annuity option, and a lot of that is in future, devalued dollars.  The cash payout is $170 million.  So it still sounds like an almost even money bet.  Ah, but taxes.  Federal taxes on that $170 million will be 35%, bringing your haul down to $110.5 million.  And then there are state income taxes.  California exempts lottery winnings, but some states don't.

Now if you can avoid the taxes, it's still a close bet.  If you buy a few tickets, you can't deduct your gambling losses unless you have offsetting gains.  But if you buy all 175,711,536 combinations, you'd guarantee yourself the jackpot, and you'd have offsetting gambling losses on all the losing tickets so you'd pay no tax.  So at current jackpot levels, you'd lose $5.7 million on the main jackpot, and you'd earn $11.25 million on 45 tickets with the 5 winning numbers without the Mega number worth $250,000 each, $2.55 million on 255 4-of-5-plus-Mega tickets worth $10,000 each, $1.7 million on 11,475 4-of-5-without-Mega tickets worth $150 each, $1.9 million on 12,750 3-of-5-plus-Mega worth $150 each, $4 million on 573,750 3-of-5-without-Mega tickets worth $7 each, $2 million on 208,250 2-of-5-plus-Mega worth $10 each, $3.75 million on 1,249,500 1-of-5-plus-Mega worth $3 each, and $4.7 million on 2,349,060 0-of-5-plus-Mega tickets worth $2 each.

Add it all up, and you'll win $32 million on top of the $170 million jackpot, for a total of $202 million and a profit of $27 million over your $175 million cost. So if you have the capital and the operational capability to buy all the tickets, it looks like a good deal... unless somebody else also wins and you split the jackpot. The odds of another winner are usually very low, but they increase as more people buy tickets. And more people buy tickets when the jackpot gets big. If other people buy 50 million tickets for this draw, there's a roughly 28% chance you lose half the jackpot and end up with a $58 million loss. There's also a much smaller chance that two other tickets win and you have to split the pot three ways for an $86 million loss. Factor these in and it becomes just about an even-money bet at these levels. If the jackpot goes much higher, it becomes a real winning bet.

For those of us who don't have the ability to buy all the tickets and net the gambling losses off for tax purposes? No, it's still a big losing proposition.

But then again, a buck can't buy you a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk, so why the hell not?

Greenspan's Body Count: 16 Afghan civilians?

The Daily Beast is pointing to financial problems in the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of murdering innocent women and children in Afghanistan.
Bales and his wife, Karilyn, appear to have been under financial duress. Their house, about 20 minutes from the base, was reportedly put up for sale the day after the shootings, listed at $50,000 less than the purchase price.
Bales and his wife bought the house at 5215 West Tapps Drive in Lake Tapps, WA in the bubble in 2005 for $280,000. It's now worth low-$200's. I wouldn't post this information except that the family has been moved to secure facilities on the base and will never return to the house.

As evil and destructive as Alan Greenspan is, I'm not ready to chalk these killings up to him. This was the result of the Bush-Obama policy of military adventurism, occupation, and colonization. Occupation is Hell.

UPDATE: Fox News reports the Bales owned another place in Auburn, WA, which they had abandoned. It's apparently this place, 1206 31st St NE. They bought it in 1999 for $99,950, about what it's worth for now on Zillow, but it was worth more than $200,000 in Greenspan's bubble. Presumably they sucked out a huge slug of home equity at the peak, because otherwise they would have been able to sell it instead of having to abandon it.

UPDATE 2: Yep, they owed $195,000 on that $100,000 Auburn house. Greenspan, you bastard.

Obama to plunder Strategic Petroleum Reserve to boost re-election

... because what national strategic national resource wouldn't we sacrifice to save Dear Leader?

The Independent (London):
As the Prime Minster, David Cameron, wound up his three-day official visit to the United States in New York, details emerged of a possible plan to for the two nations to co-ordinate a release of strategic oil reserves to counter the current increases in prices which threaten the economic recovery – and Barack Obama's re-election hopes.

The discussions in the Oval Office on Wednesday were prompted by the rise in oil prices due in part to instability in three major producing nations – Iran, Syria and Sudan. Officials cautioned, however, that no strategy was settled upon and it could be months before final decisions were made.
Months before a final decision could be made... Gee, that would create a temporary dip in gas prices right around... oh, what's happening this fall anyway?

United Obamas of America

Folks are starting to fly the Obama and Stripes instead of along with the Stars and Stripes.
After a short stand off between a group of veterans and the head of the Lake County, FL Democrat Party, an American flag that had been altered to depict an image of Barack Obama in the space where the stars are normally located was taken down.

The Lake County Democratic Headquarters in Tavares has been flying two American flags outside their office. The first an American Flag and the second the altered flag.

I believe in our first amendment rights so I'm not against the concept but I am very worried about the direction of the country when it's the Democratic Party that is hanging this flag down in Florida. Political idol worship is undemocratic. The purpose of democracy is to rule our leaders, not have our leaders rule us. That seems beyond the understanding of Democrats, though the GOP does their fair share of idolatry.

I believe in the Constitution and I find it ironic that those who exercise their First Amendment rights are so strenuously trying to destroy our other amendment rights.

This is just unsettling.

Goldman Sachs exec Greg Smith quits, repents

NYT via ZeroHedge:

After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.
Any whistleblowers that help bring down the squid are a step in the right direction, but this guy's claims that everything was fine before Lloyd Blankfein are absurd. So when Hank Paulson looted Greece there was nothing wrong with that? When Robert Rubin hijacked the federal government, there was nothing wrong with that?

Drain your political enemies' bank accounts

Why is it that almost every "sponsored" link on my Facebook page is from someone I loathe?



Nathan Felcher: A RINO hack who supported the Schwarzenegger tax increase and milks the Chelsea King murder for political gain.

Dirty DeMaio: some group (unions? Felcher? Dumanis?) who doesn't want Carl DeMaio to be mayor of San Diego.

mybarackobama.com: enough said.

Stop the Koch Brothers: union / Democrat machine.

Why any of these groups think I'd have any interest in supporting their sick and twisted cause is beyond me. But I'm happy to click their links and move a few dollars from their coffers to Facebook's.

In fact, some of these links, I'm going to click over and over and over and over, over and over again.

Deadbeat state: California

Two Stanford professors explain in one sentence everything you need to know about why California is a failed state:
From the mid-1980s to 2005, California's population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.
HT: Tim Sheithner

Dirty Fed to indoctrinate schoolchildren

Courtesy of ZeroHedge:
[...] it now appears that the propaganda masters at the Office of Central Planning have decided to go for young American minds while they are still pliable. It appears that as part of its reenactment of Goebbels [sic] "economic education" curriculum, the Fed will now directly appeal to K 8-12 student [sic], in which it will elucidate on the premise of "Constitutionality of a Central Bank." You know - just in case said young (and soon to be very unemployed) minds get ideas that heaven forbid, the master bank running the US is not exactly constitutional - you know, that whole thing between Andrew Jackson and the Second Bank of the United States... 
Full propaganda materials are here.

I have a feeling the kids might prefer this lesson on the Fed from Neal Fox, which happens to be both more fun and more truthful:



Occupation is Hell...

... for both the occupiers and the occupied.

U.S. Army sergeant goes on killing spree in Afghanistan, massacres 16 including women and children.

Put thousands of men in a hostile, pointless, thankless environment for years and stuff like this is bound to happen.

We should have declared victory a decade ago and gotten out before we wasted thousands of our soldiers' lives, tens of thousands of disabling injuries, and hundreds of billions of dollars.  Now we plan to linger for another three years of carnage before handing Afghanistan back to the Taliban.

Here's the W.C. Varones foreign policy: if you attack America, we bomb you back to the Stone Age.  But we don't waste American blood and treasure trying to impose civilization on savages.

On bubbles





Remember all those companies taking out full-page ads in 2006 offering to pay top dollar for your McMansion?

The Compleat Student Loan Scam Primer

Many have written about the Higher Education Bubble and the Student Loan Scam, but never have I seen them explained so completely and concisely, and illustrated with irrefutable data, as this post from Charles Hugh Smith of Of Two Minds. Click on over and read the whole thing, but here's a teaser:
There are three dirty little secrets buried under the education/student-loan complex's high-gloss sheen:

1. Student loans have little to do with education and everything to do with creating a new profit center for subprime-type lenders guaranteed by the Savior State.

2. A college diploma's value in the real world of getting a job and earning a good salary in a post-financialization economy has been grossly oversold.

3. Many people are taking out student loans just to live; the loans are essentially a form of "State funding" a.k.a. welfare that must be paid back.
The third point, student loans as welfare, is new to me, but not surprising. Making "student loans" that prop up consumer spending but will never be paid back is just a way to do more stimulus spending without it showing up in the deficit. That debt will be forgiven by taxpayers decades from now, when the miscreants in power today have retired to a private life of luxury.

And Karl Denninger weighs in on just-released data showing that consumer credit is still collapsing except for student loans. Those poor college kids are being made debt slaves for life in order to keep the bubble going past another election or two.

TSA Scanners Enable Terrorism

Naked Capitalism posted a video of Jonathan Corbett illustrating why the TSA Scanners not only violate our rights and zap us with radiation, they are also useless. He shows how to easily get a metal box through the scanners that wouldn't get through any metal detector. It's typical stupidity of our government protecting us by making it easier for bad people to kill us. Thanks US Government, please stop. Here is the video link.

I wanted to embed the video but when I clicked on the You Tube link I was presented with this message:
Has to be a coincidence that You Tube is asking for you to sign in before viewing it, because we certainly don't want those younger than 18 to realize that our airport security is a farce wrapped up in a scam. They won't be as willing to join the Obama Youth if they did.

Marc Faber sides with WCV against David Stockman

In Fire and Ice, we pondered the divergent investment strategies of two spectators, yours truly and former Reagan Budget Director David Stockman, who viewed the US fiscal meltdown similarly.

Happily (er, gloomily?), along comes famed investor Marc Faber to weigh in on the WCV side:
"Say war breaks out in the Middle East or anywhere else, Bernanke will just print even more money -- they have no option...they haven't got the money to finance a war," said Faber.

"You have to be in precious metals and equities... most wars and most social unrest haven't destroyed corporations - they usually survive," he said.
I'm not as certain about another imminent war as Faber, but even without another war, the U.S. is completely broke and dependent on the Fed to monetize a big chunk of its 8% - 10% GDP deficits.

You got a big pullback in gold and silver these past few days, and a modest pullback in equities. Buy the dips, baby. Bernanke's printing press doesn't have a "reverse" gear.

Even the Revenuers are heading for the hills

Look what an IRS employee is googling.



What could they possibly be seeing that could worry them?

You can't cheat an honest man, part II: Goldman Sachs' plundering of Greece

Not only was Goldman Sachs behind the US financial collapse; their suction-cup-prints are all over the current European crisis.

Bloomberg:
Greece’s secret loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) was a costly mistake from the start.

On the day the 2001 deal was struck, the government owed the bank about 600 million euros ($793 million) more than the 2.8 billion euros it borrowed, said Spyros Papanicolaou, who took over the country’s debt-management agency in 2005. By then, the price of the transaction, a derivative that disguised the loan and that Goldman Sachs persuaded Greece not to test with competitors, had almost doubled to 5.1 billion euros, he said.

Papanicolaou and his predecessor, Christoforos Sardelis, revealing details for the first time of a contract that helped Greece mask its growing sovereign debt to meet European Union requirements, said the country didn’t understand what it was buying and was ill-equipped to judge the risks or costs.

“The Goldman Sachs deal is a very sexy story between two sinners,” Sardelis, who oversaw the swap as head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency from 1999 through 2004, said in an interview.

Goldman Sachs’s instant gain on the transaction illustrates the dangers to clients who engage in complex, tailored trades that lack comparable market prices and whose fees aren’t disclosed. Harvard University, Alabama’s Jefferson County and the German city of Pforzheim all have found themselves on the losing end of the one-of-a-kind private deals typically pitched to them by securities firms as means to improve their finances.
Future Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was Goldman Sachs' CEO at the time of the rape of Greece.

You can't cheat an honest man? Michael Imbesi loses millions in alleged Ponzi scheme

This morning's U-T tells the story of Michael Imbesi of La Jolla, who lost millions of dollars to Florida-based apparent Ponzi schemer George Elia who appears to have fled to Greece.

Elia promised the family he could generate profits of 20 percent a year by using their money to buy and sell securities on their behalf.

For six years, Elia sent the family quarterly statements and payments on time. The first signs of trouble happened in April, when a statement was late.

When questioned, Elia showed Imbesi a binder of financial documents that supposedly backed their investments. When Imbesi asked for copies, Elia refused, calling the records “confidential,” the suit states.
Mmmmm... yeah, that sounds legit.

What kind of idiot trusts his life savings to some guy promising 20% returns?

It's been said that you can't cheat an honest man. And if this Michael Imbesi is this Michael Imbesi, that would appear to be validated here.

A Michael Imbesi with La Jolla connections was involved in wireless cable TV "investment" Vision Communications back in the 1990's selling shares through infomercials and boiler rooms and settled with the SEC to shut it down and give back the money.

I'm guessing there aren't that many Michael Imbesis with that kind of money running around Southern California.

Reflections

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
    - Matthew 6:24


The Moneychanger and his Wife, Marinus Claeszoon van Reymerswaele, 1539

Bob Dylan: Gotta Serve Somebody

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

"Fire and Ice," Robert Frost

Former White House Budget Director David Stockman and I agree that the Pelosi-Boehner-Bush-Obama politicians in Washington have set America on a high-speed rail to horrific economic disaster. We just passed $15.5 trillion in debt, 101% of GDP, and we're still piling on another 8-10% of GDP in debt every year. We are identical to Greece, except that we have a printing press and they don't.

But Stockman and I draw very different investment conclusions from our view of how the disaster will play out. I believe the dollar will end in the fire of inflation; Stockman believes stocks will collapse in the ice of economic nuclear winter.

Stockman gives the AP an interview (read the whole thing; it will only take a minute and it's well worth your time) in which he says he doesn't own a single stock.

First, his assessment of the current situation:
[...]It's made up money. It's printing press money. When the Fed buys $5 billion worth of bonds this morning, which it's doing periodically, it simply deposits $5 billion in the bank accounts of the eight dealers they buy the bonds from.

[...] The consequences are horrendous. If you could make the world rich by having all the central banks print unlimited money, then we have been making a mistake for the last several thousand years of human history.

[...] At some point confidence is lost, and people don't want to own the (Treasury) paper. I mean why in the world, when the inflation rate has been 2.5 percent for the last 15 years, would you want to own a five-year note today at 80 basis points (0.8 percent)?

If the central banks ever stop buying, or actually begin to reduce their totally bloated, abnormal, freakishly large balance sheets, all of these speculators are going to sell their bonds in a heartbeat. That's what happened in Greece.

Here's the heart of the matter. The Fed is a patsy. It is a pathetic dependent of the big Wall Street banks, traders and hedge funds. Everything (it does) is designed to keep this rickety structure from unwinding. If you had a (former Fed Chairman) Paul Volcker running the Fed today — utterly fearless and independent and willing to scare the hell out of the market any day of the week — you wouldn't have half, you wouldn't have 95 percent, of the speculative positions today.
Sounds a lot like what we've been saying at the WCV for years, right? But here's where we part ways:

Q: How do investors protect themselves? What about the stock market?

A: I wouldn't touch the stock market with a 100-foot pole. It's a dangerous place. It's not safe for men, women or children.

Q: Do you own any shares?

A: No.

Q: But the stock market is trading cheap by some measures. It's valued at 12.5 times expected earnings this year. The typical multiple is 15 times.

A: The typical multiple is based on a historic period when the economy could grow at a standard rate. The idea that you can capitalize this market at a rate that was safe to capitalize it in 1990 or 1970 or 1955 is a large mistake. It's a Wall Street sales pitch.

Q: Are you in short-term Treasurys?

A: I'm just in short-term, yeah. Call it cash. I have some gold. I'm not going to take any risk.
Q: Municipal bonds?

A: No.
Now, to be fair, Stockman is a multi-multi-millionaire, so when he says, "some gold," he's likely talking about  millions of dollars in gold, so he'll still be fine in the case of dollar devaluation.  For us little people who don't have a million in gold, though, I think too much cash and no stocks is a dangerous game.

I simply can't envision a long-term strong-dollar scenario.  Nobody can afford a strong dollar, least of all the U.S. government.  If Bernanke's body were possessed by the ghost of Paul Volcker (I know, he's not dead yet) and interest rates shot up as Stockman fears, the economy would be hard-hit, revenues to the Treasury would collapse, and interest on the national debt would be unmanageable.  Interest rates that were considered "normal" only a few years ago would bankrupt the U.S.

Volcker had to jack Fed funds rates up to the high teens in 1980-81.  10-year Treasuries went to the mid-teens.  If the average interest cost on the national debt now rose only modestly to 5% (where it was 5 years ago and not nearly as high as it might go if the Fed actually started selling bonds), that would now cost $775 billion dollars a year.  That would be 31% of all federal revenues going to pay interest alone -- before considering that the higher rates would hammer the economy and the stock market thus pushing revenues even lower!

No central banker, much less Ben Bernanke, is going to sacrifice the stock market, the economy, and the U.S. government to defend the dollar.

Maybe I'm missing something and we'll get real Social Security reform, health care reform, and a balanced budget amendment right after the election.  But all the clowns in both parties in Washington are pushing in the opposite direction: more spending, bigger deficits, faster collapse.

From what I've seen of DC liars,
I hold with those who favor fire.

In case I'm wrong and a stock market collapse precedes dollar devaluation, I'll keep recommending being diversified across cash, stocks, and gold.  But please focus on where Stockman and I (and even bond king Bill Gross) adamantly agree: you should have lots of cash and gold, and no long-term bonds.


In the bleak midwinter

Doncha hate these long winter nights?

Nothin to do but put on some shorts and put a pizza on the barbie.







Zimbabwe Ben on the very edge of spasms of ecstasy



He's almost there... premium unleaded at $4.979... only 2.1 cents away from hitting the $5 gasoline that's been his lifelong dream since he was a printer's apprentice in Harare.

Greenspan's Body Count: Bryan David Smith and Suzanne Renee Roberts

Serial killer Alan Greenspan goes to Montana. I wonder if he still skis at his age.

Great Falls Tribune:
Great Falls Police said Wednesday that Bryan David Smith, 41, shot 46-year-old Suzanne Rene Roberts twice in the head while she slept. He then went into another room and shot himself. Police said the deaths happened sometime around Feb. 24 — three days before their bodies were discovered in the home where two lived, located at 3501 14th Ave. S.

Public documents filed in county and municipal courts indicate that at the time of his death, Smith was thousands of dollars in debt and a misdemeanor DUI charge from last week was pending in Great Falls Municipal Court.

Smith was behind on a mortgage that he inherited after a drawn-out and contentious divorce in which he also owed money to his ex-wife — all while undergoing alcohol dependency treatment at Gateway Community Services in Great Falls.


Greenspan's Body Count stands at 211.
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