Sunday, May 24, 2015
Beaver is taking a day off this week so that we may bring you the following:
The mess we call the middle east.
We see that Iran is now assisting in taking on ISIS in Iraq. That somewhat complicates matters as we have been no friend of Iran for the last 35 plus years. But digging deeper into all this we find that it's more a matter of Iran against Saudi Arabia. Iran is Shia while the Saudis are Sunnis. So it's a safe bet the Iranians were delighted when Bush invaded Iraq and threw out the Sunni government. But wait didn't we label Iran a terrorist country? We did right after they threw out the dictator the Shah whom we installed after overthrowing their democratically elected president . And it was the same thing with the Muhajadeen (sic) who we backed against Russia in Afghanistan until they morphed into Al Qaeda. And we helped install the Taliban. I'm going to take an educated guess and say that we created or helped to create ISIS in an attempt to combat Al Qaeda (divide and conquer) but in the process created a worse monster. An educated guess would be that both the U.S. and the Saudis backed ISIS at least in the beginning but for different reasons. And it seems funny how in spite of all the drone strikes and areal bombings ISIS keeps moving forward and taking cities. Remember ISIS was at the beginning a force of just 30,000.
Then there's the Russian aspect in all this. We know that prior to the Shah era in Iran their president was about to start oil deals with Russia. Russia is also friends with Assad in Syria and (when he was alive) Gadaffy in Libya. We also know that Hussein in Iraq was about to do large oil deals with Russia before the first Gulf war. And we know what happened to Russia in Afghanistan. Suspect they're staying out of Yemen for the moment unless it's to sell arms. Putin's overall plan is a bit of a puzzle to me. Most of the countries he's tried to take over are very poor. Ukraine was understandable because there's been close ties both economically and culturally. Is he really trying to put the old Soviet Union back together? What exactly are his plans for the middle east? We know he'd like nothing better than to lay in some pipelines through Syria and Iran but the wars and hostility are preventing that.
None of this will be resolved until all factions sit down and negotiate a peace agreement. Whether that would happen any time soon is anyone's guess, doubtful at this point. Where does that leave our military? We actually accomplished the mission when we got Bin Ladin. Even Bush admitted he wasn't there to nation build and yet here we are over a decade later trying to rebuild nations and stuck in the quagmire we call the middle east. There is the cost not just in the 2 to 3 trillion dollars but of the lives lost both of our military and their civilians. For us it was about the oil and protecting our interests in it. For them it I believe it was more about respect and survival. If they want to live in some 12th century dream of utopia that never existed, I say let them.
Our military this fine remembrance day is paid lip service for their part in all this. They get used as a backdrop for every politician going but when it comes time to actually supporting the troops the legislation gets voted down time and time again. Twenty five percent of the homeless in the U.S. are veterans and a yellow ribbon and a couple of days to remember them isn't going to change that. Did they fight and die for freedom and democracy? I'd say not. More like for oil and corporate interests. And if you look back through history the story is the same, all about conquering lands and gaining more wealth all at the expense of the underclass too poor to do otherwise. So ask yourself as you may be driving this weekend what price was that gallon of gas? How many died for it? And who actually benefitted from it? A dollar or two less sure doesn't raise anybody out of poverty, but it sure made a small group at the top wealthy.
No bank fails this week
Friday, May 15, 2015
Blues legend BB King has died at the age of 89. Only regret is that I never saw him preform live. It was one of those 'round to its' you keep putting off until it's too late. He kind of fell out of favor until the late 60s when big concerts came back and he started playing as an opening act for rock bands. Music I believe evolved into something a 12 year old could produce with computerized melodies and backgrounds whipped up with a press of a finger. BB however stayed true to his music and gave blues the feeling it rightly deserved, right from the gut and soul. The thrill is definitely gone.
Looks like the real data came out about production and consumer spending. Just knew they couldn't hide reality for long. You still won't find hoards at the retail shops buying crap they can't afford and didn't need in the first place. Most purchases now are for necessities like food, cheap replacement clothing (you can only darn socks so many times before they become thread bare) and of course repair items like glue and tape. And all this time the economic wizards thought the rest of the year would be roses and fairy dust. Judging by some housing prices in some areas we may be in for a second burst bubble in that sector. Big banks dumped their bad loans on unsuspecting private equity firms who are now renting out the properties if they haven't been trashed first. Average rent around here runs $1000 or more per month. That's not something even two people making minimum wage could afford.
Trains planes automobiles and computers.
We've gone a bit too far in the respect of adding computers to everything. While they work great in some situations controlling everything is really not necessary. Who after all wants to hear a knock at the door and a repairman telling you that the refrigerator called him telling him it was sick when it was in fact a teenage computer hacker from Uzbecki beckistan having his kicks on a Friday night? And good luck finding that Maytag repairman when the fridge actually does go on the fritz. They don't make em here anymore and nobody knows how to fix them. What's that you say? The computer in the fridge needs replacing? Forget it and call the recycling company just hope they don't charge you to haul it away.
And with all the wi-fi signals to all the devices out there you just know it's a recipe for disaster. Cars, trains, and planes can be hacked now so don't believe it when they tell you it's foolproof there's smarter fools being born every day.
There's a terrorist under my bed
That's what the insurance companies would like you to believe. Got a homeowners policy? This is the latest rider for the squeamish. But do read the mouse print. It only covers you if Abdul or other lone wolf is running up your driveway with bomb in hand or explosive belt and does damage to your homestead. Should he be attacking your neighbor and accidentally takes out your property in the process the policy doesn't cover you. Pretty sneaky out if you ask me.
bank fails later
UPDATE: No fails this week
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Where has all the money gone?
Stock prices are at an all time high but consumers aren't rushing out to buy the latest fridge or flat screen. Corporations given what amounts to free money are off shoring it, paying little or no tax on it and reaping the rewards. Savers desperate for income have ventured into buying corporate bonds. Most savings accounts now pay about .25% interest if even that. This bodes well for CEOs who's bonuses are based on driving up the price of a company stock. That doesn't mean a company is actually making a profit. And what isn't being said or noticed is the amount of money corporations are borrowing. Non financial corporate debt stands at $1.6 trillion or 60% over profits. Gross cash flows have been at a mere 4%.
You'll note companies buying back their own stock. That's because their sales are so bad it's the only way to keep their stock price high. One caveat to all this is that it works well in a bull market but when the tide turns there's still the borrowed money to consider. Paybacks can be a bear (pun intended).
So how long can they keep this grand illusion going is anyone's guess, but one thing is certain it can't last forever. Who will flinch first an start the sell off? And who will be smart enough to get out while the getting is good. Guess it's human nature to wait until the very last second but by then you might just get run over by the heard leaving the building.
Keep an eye on Greece because next month they'll be faced with a repayment on their debt that there's no way they can make. The IMF and Euro zone banks have successfully sucked that country dry. And once again the off shoring of wealth was the primary cause.
Speaking of banks let's see what they did.
We have one bank in Chicago, Il that hit the skids this week. First one since Feb.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Earthquakes Volcanoes and War... Oh My
Terrorists? School shootings? A foreign virus? Get your fear here. You're more apt to be gunned down in a road rage incident here than any of those things. Everywhere you look here we're being sold fear. Toe nail fungus? Fear not there's a pill for that just don't listen to the side effects at the end of the ad. And what old man would like an erection that lasts more than four hours?
Not much you can do about earthquakes. They either happen or they don't. That's not to say we aren't helping them along with fracking. Just wish they wouldn't screw up the water in the process. If fracking water is so clean let's see you drink it Mr. oilman.
There's said to be some kind of super volcano off the west coast here out in the ocean. It's just a matter of time before it will blow. Can't worry about it because there's nothing we can do about it. It sure will be interesting when it does. But it seems just about every place on this planet has its' problems, be it weather, ground movement, or a plague of locusts.
Then there's war or as I call it man made stupidity. Ideologies aside wars are fought for one reason and one reason only and that's greed. Like two kids fighting over the last cookie in the jar we're never satisfied with what we have. We seem to want it all. All done by hook or crook and don't forget to send in the Marines. We probably have enough oil to last decades but we want yours and we'll take all your minerals while we're at it. So what if a couple hundred thousand die in the process no skin off our nose.
But I think we've seen this scenario play out in past history with the fall of the empires. Always wanting more and more until they couldn't hold on to what they had. And the process goes on with wealth as well. Not satisfied with having nearly all the cookies those at the top continue to snatch the few crumbs left somehow thinking that they should own everything. Beware when you create a class that has nothing left to lose. The end results will not be pretty. History doesn't lie and you can't change it no matter how hard you try.
Bank fails? Later perhaps...