Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Straight of Hormuz

Iran is threatening to close the Straight of Hormuz.

(I've mentioned this threat in previous posts...)

While I doubt that Iran has the ability to take on the U.S. Navy and effect a closure of the Straight for any length of time... you never know. The unintended consequences and unforeseen outcomes of a full fledged conflict with Iran, for that is what would come to pass at that point, are many and varied.

What would happen in the U.S. if Iran were successful in halting Oil shipments out of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Iran itself? Oil is a fungible commodity... it would matter little if most of the ME Oil ends up in Europe and Asia. The U.S. imports roughly 23% of the world's exported Oil. Oil exports would be cut by 25% or so... America would feel most or all of that cut... so let's say a little over 2 million barrels per day would come out of American supplies in short order (this is product and crude).

Of course the price of Oil, and hence gasoline, would be a moon shot... but the real problem would be availability - and physics. Without that Oil, a great deal less "work" would take place... with cascading effects across the economy, government, and society.

Police would have less gasoline to respond to 911 calls. Commuters would have less gas to commute. Markets would tumble. And yet, if temporary, such a short term crisis might be very, very helpful in prodding Americans, and our government, into taking action. After all, Oil imports, as we currently define them, will be gone in far less than a human lifetime... a closure in the Straight of Hormuz might give us some idea of what our future might be like and also give us some incentive, and our political leaders some cover, to get on with planning for life after Oil.

Because life will be very different. Yes, we will still have cars... having a car won't be the issue.... the issue will be the number of miles the average American travels by car, and that number is going to plummet (Here's a graph of Vehicle Miles Traveled ("VMT")... perhaps this process is underway right now). Think about that for a moment. In a nation of car commuting, what happens to the need for office and retail work space? It goes down like a rock in a pond, and with it the value of those properties (many of which are owned by the various pension funds... and those funds are already terribly underfunded) and the value of the mortgages held on these properties by the banks...

I could go on and on and on... but you get the idea. American's think nothing of getting in their car and burning $5 in gasoline in order to travel to purchase $1.50 worth of eggs. That will come to a screeching (no pun intended) halt. Now think about the impact on the auto industry... without that kind of wasteful driving how are we going to wear-out our cars so that we are forced to buy new ones? At some point we are going to figure out that we don't need a single additional car in order to burn all of the Oil we are ever going to have.... And what of the impact on retailers of the decline of traffic into their stores and the profits from impulse buying that will no longer be taking place due to an absence of impulse buyers?

And doesn't all of this contract the credit system (deflation of credit)? The Left bemoans how unfair wealth distribution is in the U.S. In this scenario that problem would evaporate... along with all of the tax revenues that currently support all of their favorite Social Programs.

Ah, but its a beautiful day. I have to go feed my livestock and milk the cow and head over to the academy to teach a grappling class. Enjoy your day!

Monday, December 26, 2011

What We Have Become

Yet another plank in the diseased ship of state of the Left.

Young men of the gang-banger mentality have a new form of entertainment: Walking up to defenseless persons and punching and kicking them in the head until they suffer a concussion and collapse to the ground... and just what demographic is engaging in this repulsive behavior? It ain't farm kids from Iowa or suburban kids from New England.

Oh, the Right has its share of blame here, too... the War on Drugs has created a demographic of unemployable men that have abandoned their families to a life of crime... their offspring's only role model were thugs...

The Left and Right battle reminds of the a National Geographic photo taken of 2 bull seals on a beach so absorbed in their own fight that neither noticed the Orca coming out of the water to kill them.

Willie Sutton famously quiped when asked why he robbed banks - "cause that's where the money is". Really want to fix America's social ills? You gotta go where that illness is greatest. But it ain't gonna happen... the Left needs these votes and couldn't care less about The People.


"Correlation DOES NOT imply Causation"

Remember that one?

Clearly the "professor" of "Women's Studies" quoted in this article was MIA for her Statistics and Finite Mathematics classes...

In the first five years after the adoption of no-fault divorce, divorce rates did indeed rise, but the domestic violence rates fell by about 20 to 30 percent, and wives' suicide rate fell by 8 to 13 percent. So we know that divorce actually provides a safety valve. - Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and women's studies, The Evergreen State College

Sounds so right... the way all propaganda should and often does.

Dear Ms. Coontz: You provide only your putative "benefits" of the issue... what of the costs? Children from broken homes suffer from poverty and mental illness in vastly great numbers than the offspring of intact families. Does that matter in your calculation? I could beat you to death with this, but let's move on... Even if I take your data at face value (and I don't... when one is a "hammer" EVERYTHING looks like a "nail"... and if a "professor" of Women's Studies" cannot be defined as a "hammer"... who can?) as a college "professor" (SNICKER) you SHOULD know (and either a: you do know better and are simply engaging in outright propaganda, or b: you DON'T know... in which case you are merely another incompetent. Either way, you are a disgrace to humanity and are harming the women lured into your orbit of hate) that "correlation does not imply causation".

For example... anti-depressant use in middle aged women has gone from essentially ZERO to 24% of that population. Any chance that that had something to do with the decrease in suicide (you f***ing jerk)?

And domestic violence? Police response to a 911 call was non-existent in the 1930's and was few and far between in the 1970's... any chance that increased Law Enforcement had something to do with the decline in Domestic Violence (and domestic violence cuts both ways I might add... and women are far more likely to use a weapon). I am sure in your mind the fact that 24% of women are medicated in order to cope is entirely the fault of rampant paternalism and misogyny in our society... but is there any chance that an unintended consequence of rising divorce rates and the refusal of 50% of the population to marry in the first place is harming the mental health of women? Do you have any better data to support that contention then you do on your previously mentioned assertions? Of course not. You are in the indoctrination business, not the education business.


Christmas Shop(lift)ing and Competitive Materialism (I got that from my Physician in Miami... he was using that term to define the miasmic social environment in the Nouveau Riche cesspool of my adopted hometown Boca Raton).

Got that? Here we are, a nation of obese, petty thieves, judging the fitness of our political leaders by their sexual histories...

We are a nation so poisoned by the Media, Hollywood, "Women's Sudies'" "Professors", et al that we steal $435 per family (and that's just retail theft), our "inner city" youth punch defenseless elderly into unconsciousness, and our college professors engage in rank propaganda and disinformation.

What a world.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The People (of Israel)

If you have been reading my stuff you know that I am a firm supporter of Israel (as in their Right to Exist) and the Israeli people... but it is much the way I feel about my own country. I love what our country's - America and Israel - have stood for but am deeply suspicious of The Powers That Be.

Too many non-Jewish Israeli supporters and the Diaspora do not know what is going on in Israel right now. Israel is becoming (really has become) a Latin American style "democracy". A dozen or so immensely wealthy and powerful families are in complete control of the government - and its policies and military. The money coming from the Diaspora, fundamentalist Christians (this group provides huge financial and political support to the Israeli government... especially when Likud is in power), and U.S. Government Foreign Aid into Israel is going to further this small group's power and control, and has not (IMHO) helped The People... in fact, given the demonstrations in Israel of the feelings in the Israeli Street I think the temptation to pick fights and engage in military operations for the purposes of distracting the surge in dissatisfaction is very, very tempting.

To say that this set of circumstances is problematic, particularly at a time when Iran is so close to becoming a Nuclear Power, cannot be said forcefully enough. Yet ANY CRITICISM of Israel's government is met with a swift and brutal counter from those controlled by The Israeli aristocracy - Witness Ron Paul's treatment in the American Media.

This is dangerous stuff with some very troubling potential unintended consequences. The flavor of anti-semitism that I smell on some of the Occupy Wall Street folks is one of these. Its threat to the unique relationship between the U.S. and Israel cannot be dealt with in the same manner as other out-breaks of anti-semitism - precisely because it is occurring in the one country that Israel needs most at her side.

To the people of Israel: The American People support you, your right to exist, and your commitment to democracy. I pray you are able to hold on to that commitment in these troubling times.

To my fellow Americans: We must support the people of our closest ally, Israel. We must not let that support be used by their 1% to enslave their 99%.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Power of Propaganda

Wanna see the power of Media Propaganda?

Watch this. As a result of THIS?


What Stock Market Multiples Say About "Growth"

Many energy watchers in the blogsphere often talk about "the end of growth". IF, and its a big IF, they are correct, you will see it first in the stock market.

The stock market prices in future growth and current cash flow/earnings (no, they are not the same thing). If there is no "growth", PE multiples will (IMHO) contract down deep into the single digits.

So it was with great interest that I saw this article today on Marketwatch.

If the end of growth is here, temporarily or permanently, you will see it in market multiple contraction.


Read this interesting article about the end of the 9-5 workday at the office.

Without doubt this is happening... it is the conclusion as to "why" the author reaches that I must take to task.

Vehicle Miles Traveled is down... Oil imports are down in the U.S., as is total Oil consumption... Oil is primarily a transportation fuel in the U.S... what choice do people, or companies for that matter, have? Commuting is going to contract. PERIOD. As it does the value of all of that commercial office space, and the support business surrounding it (from lunch trucks to dry cleaners) is going to go down like a rock in a pound. Think banks are in bad shape now? They are positively healthy and robust compared to what they will be with a 10% contraction in transportation fuels.


I wish these "young farmers" good luck.

Unfortunately, for them to make a living farming at the sub-industrial level will require the price of their produce to rise substantially. I speak with local organic/family farm types fairly often at our local Farmer's Coop and at the farmer's markets in the area... and they just aren't making it. Food is CHEAP and still 1 in 7 Americans cannot afford food on their own income and require government assistance... and its far WORSE in the rural heartland, where people are taking a stab at this, with 1 in 5 on food assistance here in my rural Tennessee county. There is a vicious cycle going on here... the government subsidizes people's food budget, giving them little incentive to buy local products from people that do not and cannot accept Food Stamps... and by subsidizing people the people do not learn how to grow and preserve food, even though in our local there is an excess of land and rain. The elderly farmer up the street from me told me that when he was a young man most everyone kept hogs here... now almost no one does. Those that do send their hogs out for "processing", and by doing so pretty much eliminate the economic advantage of raising the hog in the first place (by paying $.70 per pound in processing fees instead of doing it themselves).  We slaughter several hogs each year and save a couple $thousand$ per year in doing so.

Yet the small scale farmers around here are having a hard time selling their produce and livestock. The government has removed the incentive and tradition of self-reliance from the descendants of America's frontiersmen and farmers, and in doing so left the farmers and their potential customers in poor shape.


Anti-trade socialists should read this article.

Enough said.


American Family Life continues to just get weirder and weirder.


More soon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Banker Who Just Does Not Get It

You just gotta read this.

Dear Mr. Dimon:

I don't know how to tell you this... but you are not Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, or even Michael Dell.

You are a guy born into a family of the 1%. You went to the "right" schools all of your life (and by "right", I don't mean the curriculum, which was the same in every other school... I mean you gained the exclusivity cache that the establishment reserves for its members and their issue), and you had the good fortune to be included in the club due to your unique personal, ethnic, and cultural background... if you were a Puerto Rican kid from the South Bronx I doubt you would have your current position - Harvard Business School or not. When you are born on 3rd base, its just not that far to home plate. As my friend Donal Lang quiped - "is is easy to confuse privilege with talent". You really shouldn't do that. Mr. Dimon.

You did not invent banking and you are not the founder of J.P. Morgan. You and your ilk "captured the flag" of the CEO office, and you (and your ilk) rode the inflation of the U.S. credit system to fame and glory - but please, "don't confuse brains with a bull market." You and your ilk could no more survive the contraction in that system without the support and acquiescence of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury than a trapped minor survive a mine collapse without oxygen.

You do not "run" J.P. Morgan... but you do bleed it dry. All CEO's know this truth - their corporation runs them. Without the armies of analysts and consultants (Mckinsey, Booze-Allen et al) and the legions of CPA's, Lawyers, Board Members, and support staff you wouldn't know how to get into your building. These other folks run the place in a very similar fashion to a rugby scrum... and that's OK. That's the way it is when you have 60,000 employees... but claiming credit where credit is not due is beneath you.

Not that you aren't smart, driven, hardworking, and diligent - you are. You beat the rest of the pack to that corner office... that in itself is quite an accomplishment - it is simply not worth $23 million per year. I, myself, am at least as smart as you (care to play Chess with me? Or Concentration?  I'd wipe the floor with you), and I would do it for $5 million. I know some folks that are a great deal smarter than you and I that would do it for $1 million (but not me... that's not enough compensation for me to come off the bench, quit my farm, and sit through all those meetings every day).

JP Morgan, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs... you folks are nothing more than branch offices of the Federal Reserve Banking System. Your size and financial power derives as much from the U.S. military enforcing US$ hegemony around the world, and the U.S. Navy protecting Oil shipping lanes, than anything else (if you doubt this, watch what happens to "banking" if a U.S. or Israeli dust up with Iran leaves the Straight of Hormuz closed for even a couple days). You and your cohorts were able to toot your horn only because of the unique environment of exponential growth in credit and natural resource supplies of the past several decades... in an environment of exponential decay in credit and natural resource supplies you and your industry will need to be rescued several times over I should imagine... so what, exactly, is so "productive" about you?

In addition to confusing brains with a bull market, you and your ilk have stacked the deck in Washington, DC, and equally as importantly (but flying under the media's radar) in the state of Delaware's State and Legislative houses, where you have written corporate law to ensure that you are NEVER challenged and that your board directors is nothing but a rubber stamp leaving you with a government sanctioned AND FINANCED monopoly. If you guys are soooo smart and sooo competent, what's up with the buying of government protection? When you come right down to it there is little difference between you and the Russian oligarchs.

This is coming from a guy that worked in the banking and securities markets most of his career, not some OWS kid in a tent pissed off because he's $200k in debt for a history degree from Brown. If I were in your position I don't think I would do things that much differently. Except I wouldn't believe my OWN bull sh#!.

I am, however, very impressed with your ability to spin the story and issue propaganda that has led some in the middle class to sympathize with you and to demonize the kids of OWS, many of whom see clearly the workings of the system before them. Unfortunately for the Middle Management Republicans they are unfamiliar with "Jeffers Media Theory" (please feel free to google).

In the final analysis it matters not. You and yours will not be able to stop the Internet from shedding the light of day on the truth of it all... I look forward to seeing how it all works out with great anticipation.

Sincerely yours,


P.S. What America NEEDS at this very moment is NOT more egomaniacal bankers... we need more small business owners and founders and people that are willing to to go to work everyday, come home to their family every night, and be good neighbors.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rise of the Machines

"Wall Street employment is down 9%."

Boy. Now there's a yawner...

Wall Street employment might be down 9%... but compensation is down closer to 25% (and maybe 30%... and its only that high because the senior exec's ripping the government and the shareholders off... trader and broker income is off more)... and that's with all that the Fed and the U.S. Treasury did to soften this blow.

Well, speaking of blows... Europe is blowing. And this wind is going to level what is left of "Wall Street".

(And just who is "Wall Street", anyway? Lehman? Gone. Bear Stearns (my alma mater)? Gone. Goldman is staying off the the radar and out of the media... and don't even mention MF Global (ROFL!!!). Its embarrassing to watch CNBC - they have to struggle to get a dolt  capable of fogging a mirror from "Dewey-Fugam & Howe" and "Laydown and Whackett" to entertain the masses of disinterested investors....

Because there are no individual investors left. Its all machines. The volatility going on in the market is the result of infinite buy and sell programs - with the result that people just can't take it any more. I speak to CPA's regularly... first thing I ask is how their clients are doing trading the market... the answer, unsurprisingly is "not too hot". Since high frequency trading is now over 70% of the volume, and it was non-existant 10 years ago... and hedge funds are 30% (just making that number up... but I bet I am close), and they pretty much didn't exist 10 years ago, too... and trading volumes are down... it then follows that there are no individual investors left.

So... IMHO, it ain't long before New York and environs goes feral.

We are in a uniquely bad spot here.

Friday, December 9, 2011


The CIA uses the term "Blowback" to describe the unintended consequences that result when groups or nations that have been dealt with coercively respond with violence in return.

I have no idea what the facts are in the case of the shooting of a Police Officer at Virginia Tech University yesterday... but a thought was nagging at the back of my mind...

I am continually surprised that the police officers involved in the killing of civilians are not then subjected to vendettas and revenge. Police kill people in no-knock raids, traffic stops of unarmed people ("the car was a weapon"), and other encounters... have not then been subject to violent response from the victim's family. I am astounded, frankly.

When I heard this story, well, I am interested to hear what the facts are. This is probably not the case here... but it is only a matter of time before the father/brother/son of one of these police killing victims settles the score the old fashioned way.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We Paid Big Money to get this *&^ed Up

Big Money.

The "Euro Could Explode"?? ROFL!!

This is what happens when you addict people to social programs and structures that are not compliant with the laws of mathematics. People start to actually believe that whatever condition is some kind of right.  

The solution for Europe is fairly simple... unfortunately, several more governments will have to collapse and the people humbled before we get there.


Is it War in Iran? I certainly hope not. This analysis is certainly worth considering.

From the article:

Nonetheless, at this point war looks likely. Under our political system, the side that can pay for election campaigns invariably gets what it wants. There is, simply put, no group of donors who are supporting candidates for president and Congress based on their opposition to war, while millions of organised dollars are available to those who support the neo-con agenda. Pundits used to say: As Maine goes, so goes the country. It's just as simple today: As the money goes, so goes our policy.
I am a Free Market, Capitalist/Libertarian... and even I hope to see The Powers That Be running the International money and banking system crushed before they destroy us all. Maybe the Fed saved the system to keep the world safe for future conflicts like this.


Pearl Harbor Day came and went with little fanfare... and that's the way it is. A political disagreement worth killing hundreds of millions (WW I & II) is pretty much forgotten in a single human lifetime... and for a number of reasons... not least of which is this:

"When strange peoples meet: First they fight. Then they fornicate."

My father spent 3 1/2 years in the South Pacific during WWII fighting the Japanese. Me? I am married to a beautiful girl from JAPAN. We have 2 children. Groups that insist on walling themselves off from others - dividing the world into 2 kinds of people - will continue to provide the fuel that stokes the flames of War.

Way to go.


I have several "go to" guys in my universe. "The Wise Man". "The Mad Scientist". "Einstein".

I had an interesting conversation with The Wise MAN ("TWM") yesterday. He's an older fellow (If someone my age says you are "older", well, you have had a long time on this planet to observe) who has spent a lifetime with a keen eye taking in the human condition.

Says he: "Everywhere I look, I see people accommodating the new reality, and some that are doing so in fact while pretending otherwise... but it is happening. The World just got a lot bigger... and that means our individual "world" has gotten a lot smaller. And it can get a whole lot smaller. We will adjust. Life will go on. But people's expectations are being adjusted as we speak. Many will have to humbled."

I love talking to TWM.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Anti-Chirst Was Here

Goldman Sachs the anti-Christ and a member of my most unholy trinity (along with the USDA and the Department of Homeland Security... come to think of it, I may have to expand from a trinity to some larger number) has been out of the news of late. Amazing, really. Goldman was unindicted co-cospirator Numero Uno in the European Debt Disaster.

These guys are like the anti-Johnny Appleseed... only the seeds they leave behind are cancer clusters. And boy, do they get paid well for their trouble.

Not that the EuroZone wasn't doomed from the get go... but with friend's like Goldman, who needs an enema?

It was Goldman (and OK, Lehaman/Bear/Morgan et al... but with Goldman as the Don of Dons) that helped Italy and Greece structure (read: hide) their deficit spending so that it wouldn't appear "on balance sheet"... thereby "maintaining compliance" with their Maastricht agreements (the guys from Enron went to jail for this stuff. Goldman? They got special dispensation for counter party risk... essentially getting paid BIG MONEY for taking no risk and, in reality, actually providing no risk coverage for those seeking such... but they DID go to Harvard... so they must be smart, right? Snicker...).

Not long long after, these doer's of "God's work" helped blow the U.S. financial system up with their contributions to high finance in the mortgage market as well as Washington D.C.'s regulatory and law garage sale.

We have the largest percentage of people in prison as a percentage of the population in the history of mankind... but not one guy from Goldman.

Because everybody works for Goldman. The Department of Justice, the SEC, the U.S. Senate... everybody.

I wonder if they'd hire me?

Prolly not...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Europe, Debt, and the Keynesian Jag-Offs

Merkel says fixing Europe's debt crisis will take "years".

Madame Prime Minister: It will take years??!! That's if you are lucky. If you are not, it might fix itself over a long weekend.


If you are an equity investor you really gotta ask yourself: What is it that the Bond market sees that you don't?  I spent an entire morning earlier this week looking around for short term U.S. Treasury paper without a negative yield... why do you suppose that is?


The U.S. economy and the American worker simply cannot afford the level of "payroll tax". The "payroll tax" is insufficient to support and maintain the solvency of the U.S. Social Programs. If you have read my older stuff, well, this is EXACTLY what I have been saying since the day I started this blog. It does not matter what you think, or feel, or wish... the numbers matter... and the facts on the ground say that these programs will be cut so deeply that they will resemble "defaults" on promises far more than cuts in benefits.


And finally... anybody besides me realize that any "bailout" of Europe by the Fed will be at the expense of American Taxpayers?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Europe Explained by a Regular Guy

Wall Street economists just love to talk in jargon and show everybody how smart they are... consequently, most people, and most investors, tune them out and few American's really understand what the heck is going on over on the other side of the pond.

Well... it is a very similar story to America circa 2008 when our bank's collateral (mortgages) turned out to not be worth what people thought they were... only in Europe, the asset that is FUBAR is the sovereign debt of the EU members... the bonds sold by the various member country's departments of treasury.

Europe's banks are freaked out, and rightly so, about the potential for spreading defaults on those bonds... so they are in full flight, de-leveraging mode... and since they cannot (or won't) raise capital at these equity prices (some, like Bank of America are down 90%) they MUST work from the other side of the balance sheet - calling in loans and selling off collateral and seized assets.  What happens when the banks all try to sell stuff at once? The prices for that "stuff" collapses.... and if the "stuff" happens to be sovereign debt? Well, as asset/prices go down the interest rate for new debt goes UP! When you are on the razor edge, like Italy (forget Greece... they are off they edge and small potatoes, anyway) you go from "Everything's fine" to "my rectum thinks my throat's been cut!" in a matter of days... and what happens when the banks all call their loans at once? Liquidity - CASH - dry's up in the system, forcing down the prices for the stuff they are trying to sell to raise cash and deleverage in the first place... get it? The ultimate negative feedback loop.

And the response from The Powers That Be? Lend the banks more cash printed up over at the U.S. Federal Reserve... which had the effect of lowering the value of the US$ and raising asset prices.

This is a band aid over a festering, gangrenous wound. Italy's debt is such that any rise in interest rates and POOF! They won't be able to fund it any more (remember... Italy cannot print its own currency), and will simply have to default... And Japan makes Italy look like a pilgrim!

But wait! There's more! If you order now we'll throw in a U.S. pension system disaster right on time for the Presidential election! OR... an energy shock! Either way... you are gonna get something!

You see... the U.S. Fed is only to willing to do this despite the obvious draw backs because if they do not... and the markets continue crumble... it won't just be American Airline's that is defaulting on its pension obligations. So the U.S. Fed was willing to sacrifice the US$, at least a little bit, to buy the Europeans some time... with the risk that if it were to actually work the price of Oil could (though I doubt this very, very much) spike and put the kabosh on things in general.

Europe will have to shred its safety nets and generous pensions. Period. End of Report.