Saturday, May 31, 2014

Friday Beaver - world economic edition

Not much to write about these past few weeks, too busy watching the world fall apart.

What happened in the 1920s that lead to the great depression is much again following suit. Just like today banks were leveraged to the hilt. The stock market soared as investors borrowed 100% to "invest" in a market that had no chance of success at least in the long run. "Bucket shops" placed side bets on the direction of the market much like the hedge funds of today. When the entire economic system unraveled cooler heads finally prevailed but not until much damage was done. Homes and farms were lost. People's entire savings were wiped out and same as Detroit homes were bulldozed as banks foreclosed and tax revenues fell.

There was the drought in the Midwest forcing many farmers to either leave or endure the ravages of the dust bowl. Many died, in fact it's estimated that 5 million died from the effects of the depression. Republicans back then did much the same as Republicans are doing now by blocking any legislation that would help regular folks. FDR came up with the New Deal much of which was done through executive orders. Things were slowly coming back to normal. In the late 30s the republicans convinced FDR to start cutting programs and lowering taxes. The country started to slide back into depression. That's when WWII broke out and unlike today all of our military hardware was made in the USA. Soon factories that had turned out cars were turning out jeeps and tanks. Everything became geared to winning the war with everyone doing their part in the way of sacrifice. Bosses took a 10% pay cut. Workers had to deal with rationing coupons and shortages as everything went to the war effort.

Today everything is done on the cheap. Much of the military hardware or at least it's electronic components are made overseas. Car factories aren't cranking out tanks. There's no rationing and top management is making more than ever before even as companies lose money. Workers on the other hand are making less than before.  Everything has become for the benefit of the elite when you look at it. It's been going on for a long time. Ever since someone thought that moving a little wealth around was something akin to communism. Agree with it or not FDRs "New Deal" built a nation and a strong middle class and much of our infrastructure we have today but much of it is slowly falling apart as those at the top see no need for maintenance. If we do nothing it will be like a slow drip in the living room ceiling. Just a matter of time until it falls. And of course you know who'll get the blame. It'll be the ones who pointed out the problem in the first place.

Now we have entire countries set on the verge of collapse. Greece is a good example. Years of tax cuts and the off shoring of wealth lead to it's demise. It is at present $400 billion in debt with no prospects of even paying the interest on its' loans. What was once a game of 'vulture capitalism' has now become a game involving entire countries. You know the drill. Watch as a nation cuts it's taxes and gives loopholes to its' wealthy and like a game of Monopoly a select few win as everyone else loses. So easy to do when you're the one making the rules.

Ukraine is in a unique position at present. Yes the country has debt and there is that tug of war financially speaking between the west and Russia, but it has the opportunity to redeem itself if it can somehow wean itself off of gas and oil. But then there's the matter of corruption that seems to be a long tradition in the country. Perhaps a hold over from the old Soviet days how could anyone expect a country to change its' economic model overnight when bribes and kickbacks are still ingrained in the culture. It seems only Putin has learned modern day vulture capitalism in that part of the world or at least he's the only one with the economic clout to use such tactics. They could pull an Iceland move on these financial malcontents but there isn't enough honest people in government to try that not when their president is "the chocolate king". Iceland by the way defaulted on its' debt and jailed the bankers responsible if you didn't know.

To conclude it appears that what once started out as a debt bubble of working folks, you know it was the leveraging of simple things like bank deposits that started all this, soon moved to houses that were tied to cities that were tied to states and then entire countries that created the mess we see today. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security just because you have a job and a steady income, this debt and borrowing has to reset itself sometime soon because soon there won't be enough income to pay the interest just as we see in Greece. Well that's my two cents. What say you?

What banks have failed this week? 
One bank in Maryland is no more.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Friday beaver - and this time it's a real beaver story

The reintroduction of beavers to the wild in Scotland for the first time in 400 years has been an "outstanding success", according to the team of ecologists that brought them back.    The  four pairs of beavers reintroduced in Knapdale five years ago have  produced 14 young, engineered 18-metre-long dams and lodges the size of  double garages and significantly boosted tourism      The trial, conducted by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission Scotland, released 16 Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber)  in four family groups between May 2009 and September 2010 into three  lochs in the Knapdale forest, west of Lochgilphead, in Argyll.    After a challenging start, the first beaver kit was born in 2010 and the latest count shows there are now 13 animals living around lochs Coille Bharr, Buic, Creagh Mhor and Linne.

Was out cutting dead limbs from some trees and much to my surprise found an eagles nest at the top of one of them. Couldn't tell if it was still active but you never know. Also surprising was the fact that the tree wasn't that tall about 25 to 30 feet. Usually eagles like to make their nests much higher.

Bank fails later.
One bank failed this week in Berwyn, Il.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Friday Beaver? Oops got too busy last week

Not much to report. The world is crazy as ever. Good is bad and bad is good. Guess Orwell was right unless he was wrong.

Seems the Chinese are slowly buying up most of our country. So much easier than using bombs or guns I guess. But this goes in cycles. It was the Japanese some years back then came the Arabs. Let's see what's in the closet I could sell them. Wonder if they'd go for an old dusty disco suit? The collars are comical. Hum... better save it you never know they just might come back in style someday. Which reminds me of a quick story.

Fellow gets sent to a strict school to straighten him out. While perusing the rules he notes "No zoot suits allowed". Which makes him wonder when those rules were written. There doesn't seem to be anything like that today. No shipping Jr. off to boarding school or military school. And our schools are dying a slow death. Used to be at least 3 years of math 2 science courses 4 years of english and at least a year of foreign language two when I went. Not to forget history, civics and economics, shop class and of course physical education. They have since eliminated civics and economics and I believe phys ed. is optional if your get a note. So we're now producing functionally illiterates who have few options. It's the reason McDonalds had to put pictures instead of menu items on their cash registers. Amazed that they can give back the correct change without the register telling them. Perfect candidates for the Government Accounting Office. Hey they're never audited. 

And speaking of such there were no bank fails last week but the year is still early.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Friday beaver - Hey it's Monday already

Heads I win tails you lose

This is the Ukrainian coin toss Putin style. No rest for the wicked there. The choice being being crushed by western debt or crushed by Russian debt. Nice choice eh? The third alternative would be no better. Reject them both and you're still bankrupt. Might be a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there comrade. How quickly those pro russians forgot what it was like under the old Soviet system or maybe mom and dad forgot to tell them. And really what benefit has any system gotten them? They have one of the lowest standards of living of any industrialized country. Countries like Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania aren't doing any better and yet we don't see Putin going after them at least not yet. And why exactly would any superpower want to saddle themselves with such a burden? Some answers to be revealed shortly.

How exactly did all this start and what does it mean you might ask? We quickly forgot the "Orange revolution". That was the last major protest when the country was shifting from the old communist ways. But don't be fooled it was backed and financed by the west. And for what reason? Simple, the Ukraine is a pinch point for the gas and oil that flows into Europe. Control that and you have control of most of the energy supply of Europe. And there's only two ways to gain that control, either by an agreement (in this case it was by loaning the country billions there by making them slaves to debt) or with the use of a military invasion. The latter is never looked upon too kindly as people still remember the blitz tactics of Hitler. Nope Putin tried a different tactic by making it look like the people themselves were rising up and wanting a russian system. Nothing could be further from the truth as the country is made up of just 17% russians. 

This makes you wonder if Putin isn't trying to copy something out of the Tea Party play book. Try to make people long for a by gone era. The only problem is that the good old days weren't so good. Then of course there's the flag waving and national pride. That and a couple of rubles will get you a cup of coffee. 

Lastly we have dictators in the making. In Egypt it was Morsi who wanted to give himself more power than the supreme court. We're seeing how that's working out. And now it's being played out with Yanukovych who neatly got some anti democratic laws passed the parliament (see below) and decided it was open season on anybody who didn't agree with him. Putin must have paid him off well as the next thing you know the country was about to be saddled with russian debt.

In the U.S. it's business as usual. While the lame stream media is touting how things are just peachy (yeah if you have an account in the Caymans) main street is still suffering especially if you're over 50 and were laid off when the economy tanked. Don't believe the jobs numbers for a New York second they don't count 3.5 million that couldn't find work at least nothing that would cover the rent when the unemployment ran out.

No bank fails last week