Thursday, December 12, 2013

BlackRock Is The Biggest Investor In The World — Is Its Dominance A Problem?

ASK conspiracy theorists who they think really runs the world, and they will probably point to global banks, such as Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Oil giants such as Exxon Mobil and Shell may also earn a mention. Or perhaps they would focus on the consumer-goods firms that hold billions in their thrall: Apple, McDonald’s or Nestlé.
One firm unlikely to feature on their list is BlackRock, an investment manager whose name rings few bells outside financial circles. Yet it is the single biggest shareholder in all the companies listed above. It owns a stake in almost every listed company not just in America but globally. (Indeed, it is the biggest shareholder in Pearson, in turn the biggest shareholder in The Economist.) Its reach extends further: to corporate bonds, sovereign debt, commodities, hedge funds and beyond. It is easily the biggest investor in the world, with $4.1 trillion of directly controlled assets (almost as much as all private-equity and hedge funds put together) and another $11 trillion it oversees through its trading platform, Aladdin (see “BlackRock: The monolith and the markets”).
Established in 1988 by a group of Wall Streeters led by Larry Fink, BlackRock succeeded in part by offering “passive” investment products, such as exchange-traded funds, which aim to track indices such as the S&P 500. These are cheap alternatives to traditional mutual funds, which often do more to enrich money managers than clients (though BlackRock offers plenty of those, too). The sector continues to grow fast, and BlackRock, partly through its iShares brand, is the largest competitor in an industry where scale brings benefits. Its clients, ranging from Arab sovereign-wealth funds to mom-and-pop investors, save billions in fees as a result.
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Hunger and homelessness in US cities

A survey of 25 US cities has offered a picture of the state of hunger in the country as homelessness and requests for help are on the rise.
A survey of mayors, conducted by the US Conference of Mayors, has shown that requests for emergency food aid in 25 big cities, located in 18 states and the District of Columbia, have increased by an average of 7 percent compared with the previous period one year earlier.
Over the period of September 2012 through August 2013, all the cities studied, except four cities, reported a rise in requests for help.
“There’s no question that the nation’s economy is on the mend, but there’s also no question that the slow pace of recovery is making it difficult — and, for many, impossible — to respond to the growing needs of the hungry and the homeless,” said Tom Cochran, the executive director of the US Conference of Mayors.
Some 43 percent of those who asked for emergency food aid were employed, 9 percent were homeless, and 21 percent were elderly.
The main reason for the increased hunger in US cities was unemployment, followed by low salaries, poverty, and a high cost of housing.
Meanwhile, homelessness increased by an average of 4 percent in the cities surveyed, which included Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Memphis, Nashville, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
The growing number of hungry people in major US cities comes as food stamps for millions of American people were cut across the country after a food assistance law expired on November 1.
During a speech on December 4 in Washington, D.C., US President Barack Obama acknowledged the US economy has become “profoundly unequal,” which he described as a “fundamental threat” to the American society.
With permission
Source: Press TV

How Wall Street Bankrupted Detroit | Interview with Richard Wolff

Abby Martin speaks with Richard Wolff, economist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts about the recent district court ruling on Detroit’s bankruptcy and how it could affect the pensions of thousands of city workers.

Former Bank Of Israel Head Rumored To Be Deputy Chairman Of The Fed!

While Bernanke may be about to leave; none other than his mentor and thesis adviser – former Bank of Israel chief Stanley Fischer is rumored to be in line for a new role:
And so the circle of life is complete. So far, the White House has declined to comment, but we note Fischer has a reputation for beng more hawkish than most - evidenced by his refusal to engage in the kind of dovish activity the rest of the world did while in charge in Israel and is especially downbeat on forward guidance.
REPORTS: Stanley Fischer Is The Leading Candidate To Become The Next Federal Reserve Vice Chairman
Israel’s Channel 2 is reporting that former Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer is the leading candidate to replace Janet Yellen as the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve when she ascends to the top spot at the central bank in January.Bloomberg News also reports that Fischer is the frontrunner for the job, citing a “person familiar,” but says the White House has declined to comment on the reports.
Fischer Poised to Be Picked as Fed’s No. 2

Budget “Deal” Targets Vets & Unemployed

AG Holder: More mortgage fraud cases against banks

The Justice Department plans to bring mortgage fraud cases against several financial institutions early in 2014, using as a template the case that ended last month in JPMorgan Chase's $13 billion settlement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Holder would not say which companies or how many could face lawsuits but said the Justice Department was in contact with them and it was hard to say whether the talks would lead to settlements.

"We have a number of investigations that are coming to a head at the same time," he said. "It is my hope that the next round of these cases will be filed soon after the new year."

14 Years Ago JP Morgan Patented Bitcoin-Like Payment System

Denis O’Leary, on behalf of JPMorgan Chase Bank, has filed a patent for a Bitcoin-like payment system that will allow customers to use a digital wallet and transfer funds to anyone anonymously.
This patent is a renewal of the original filed in 1999; 14 years ago.
This means that the patent pre-dates the surge in Bitcoin and the inception of cryptocurrencies.
The JPM Internet Pay Anyone Account (IPAA) moves money anonymously “with the recipient of the credit having no way to determine from where the credit originated.”
The transfer of money is done without processing fees and would replace wire transfer corporations such as Western Union.
The application states: “While new Internet payment mechanisms have been rapidly emerging, consumers and merchants have been happily conducting a growing volume of commerce using basic credit card functionality. None of the emerging efforts to date have gotten more than a toehold in the market place and momentum continues to build in favor of credit cards.”
Last November, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed said that virtual currencies “may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system.”
Earlier this month, Bank of America (BoA) Merrill Lynch experts stated that “as a medium of exchange, Bitcoin has clear potential for growth.”
Bitcoin has been referred to as a pump and dump scheme by media to deter from its growing popularity.
Three weeks ago, Coin was unveiled carry on the move toward crypto currencies
Coin appears to be a credit/debit card, but this device is a mobile payment system that unites “several different methods of payment into

Nearly a quarter of Californians live in poverty, according to modified Census figures

A deepening social crisis plagues the US state of California, a reflection of a broader national crisis more than five years after the economic crash of 2008.
According to the US Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), updated last month, a shocking 8.9 million people in the state live in poverty, more than twice as many as in any other state in the country. Nearly a quarter (23.8 percent) of all Californians live in poverty based on this measures, which is designed to create a more accurate picture of poverty than the official poverty statistics.
The current official poverty measure, which has changed little since its adoption in 1963, is calculated at three times the cost of minimum food purchases. SPM, by contrast, calculates the poverty threshold based on a basic set of goods including food, shelter, clothing and utilities, along with a small additional amount for other expenses. The measure also allows for geographical variations. It does not take into account other significant expenditures, including medical costs, retirement saving and debt servicing.
On a national level, 46.7 million individuals were in poverty in 2012 using the official measure, while 49.4 million were considered to be in poverty using the supplemental measure. In California, 6.2 million were officially poor, compared to the 8.9 million based on the SPM.
The October Labor Market Review published by the Employment Development Department also points to a continuing employment crisis within the state, including high long term joblessness. While the official unemployment rate in the state has declined by almost two and half percentage points, from 10.1 percent to 8.7 percent, the unemployment rate is still 3 percentage points higher than the immediate pre-recession peak of December 2007.
As with the national figures, the fall in the official unemployment rate is due primarily to the departure of hundreds of thousands of people from the labor force after giving up hope of finding a job. During the period of so-called recovery, October 2010 to October 2013, the labor force participation rate in the state has decreased from 63.9 percent to 62.5 percent.
Long-term joblessness has also continued to rise. As of October, 28.9 percent of the officially unemployed have been out of work for 52 weeks or more. This would be even higher if those who have given up looking for work were included.
Moreover, some portions of the state are experiencing third-world level unemployment rates. In Imperial County in the state’s southeast, 25.2 percent of the population is officially unemployed.
The BLS report also shows that conditions for those who are employed have worsened dramatically. The percentage of those who work part time involuntarily has more than doubled since before the recession to 8 percent, higher than the national average of 5.6 percent.
Inflation-adjusted earnings for the top 20th income percentile have returned to pre-recession levels, while those of the bottom eightieth have declined. The bottom twentieth has seen its income fall by 5.9 percent compared pre-recession levels.
The EDD report also notes that the state’s unemployment fund has operated at a greater than $8 billion negative balance since October of 2008. There can be no doubt that as the state’s fiscal crisis reemerges, attempts will be made to pare down and wipe out certain aspects of unemployment insurance. This is fully in line with Democratic Party Governor Jerry Brown’s proposals to not be indebted to the federal government for unemployment insurance.
The Brown administration has exhibited indifference to the plight of the state’s poor and unemployed, in line with the national policy led by the Obama administration.
The governor, a darling of the state’s liberal establishment, trade unions and pseudo-left organizations, began his first term with the pledge that “if you want frugality, I’m your man.” Since then, he has crafted each year, in partnership with the Democratically-led state legislature, budgets that have cut billions from vitally needed social services. As a result, the state’s general fund is operating in the black for the first time in several years. The state’s credit rating has improved as wealthy municipal bondholders have been enriched at the expense of the working class.
Despite the fact that the state has the highest number of people in poverty, the governor has earned high praise for his services on behalf of the wealthy and privileged. Business Week magazine recently praised the Governor for proving that “unsentimental, grown-up leadership can solve an economy’s most intractable problems.”
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the governor boasted that his agenda could be used as a “template for the nation.”
While the social situation for the majority of Californians becomes progressively worse, additional attacks against the state’s working class are being prepared, particularly in the area of pensions. The recent ruling by Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes allowing for pension obligations to be part of the city’s bankruptcy filing will be used as a precedent by several California cities that are in or are considering bankruptcy.
Like their counterparts in Michigan, California municipal workers have pensions nominally protected by the state’s constitution. Pat Morris, mayor of San Bernardino, the largest California city to file for bankruptcy thus far, called the Detroit ruling “another arrow in the quiver of cities who are in desperate circumstances.”
With permission
Source: WSWS

The World of 2013 Is Obsolete!

IMPOTENCE is where the world of 2013 is, at the moment.
Real POWER comes directly from our ability to “Let-Go” of greed and blatant arrogance in order to recognize and embrace the full-circle of life which actual power enables.
Iceland has been working on changing their country since 2007, in ways that will enable a participatory-society in which people have not just a voice, but have chosen to act in their own affairs and on their own behalf.
This knowledge has been purposely kept from Americans’ because their successful revolt against the obsolete planet, might have triggered the same kinds of actions in this country; if we had but known how much progress Iceland has been quietly making towards actually changing their world from a totally controlled power-base for global-corporations, into something that goes beyond just interests, all the way to living in a reality that has recognized the most basic laws of society that must be changed: If the world is going to be able to sustain itself beyond the end of 2013. Just clutching every cent in every system is no longer a sustainable-policy for any country in the world today.
As Iceland struggles to regain its footing with a new government, U.S. citizens may or may not be able to look to Iceland as an example of perfect democracy in action. The real question, though, is why weren’t U.S. citizens given the information about the ousting of the Icelandic government and the jailing of the unscrupulous bankers? Are journalists in control of the mainstream media or is there some truth to accusations that big business may, in fact, be strong-arming reporters to keep quiet about world events that could inspire similar actions here in the U.S.?” (1)
Some of What is Really at Issue:
Iceland is trying to set a new global-standard of living in which ordinary people can take back their lives and their nations from the privatized-powers that have stolen everything from people everywhere else.
Obviously the ancient rule of the “Totally-corrupted ruling classes” worldwide must be stopped. Interestingly Americans did that when we put chains on the Robber-Barons after they crashed so many U.S. banks in 1929. Those Outlaws have been slaving away to since 1929 to regain their illegal-dominance over people everywhere, to the point now where they are about to “legalize” the unthinkable idea of Global-Corporate-Nationhood to go with the already-illegal idea of Global-Corporate-Personhood.
The scheme is called the Trans-Pacific-Partnership or TPP, which Obama is trying to fast-track in SECRET, as this comment is being written. If he succeeds then people will no longer have any rights at all in that criminal-world which will soon be run by privatized Corporate-Nations Only: You might want to think long and hard about that.
If this “plan” succeeds then the possibility of regaining a viable world will not be possible. Global-chaos will triumph over natural-balance as is shown below.
The expansive plan is a proposed free-trade agreement between the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The agreement would create new guidelines for everything from food safety to fracking, financial markets, medical prices, copyright rules and Internet freedom.
The TPP negotiations have been criticized by politicians and advocacy groups alike for their secrecy. The few aspects of the partnership leaked to the public indicate an expansive agenda with highly limited congressional oversight…
A New York Times opinion piece previously called the deal the “most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.”
Last week, the White House website released a joint statement with the other proposed TPP signatories affirming “our countries are on track to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.”
Ministers and negotiators have made significant progress in recent months on all the legal texts and annexes on access to our respective goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, and temporary entry markets,” the White House said.
The statement did not divulge details of the partnership other than to suggest a final TPP agreement “must reflect our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries.”
In February, the Open the Government organization sent a letter to Obama blasting the lack of transparency surrounding the TPP talks, stating the negotiations have been “conducted in unprecedented secrecy.”
Despite the fact the deal may significantly affect the way we live our lives by limiting our public protections, there has been no public access to even the most fundamental draft agreement texts and other documents,” read the letter…
The groups warned issues being secretly negotiated include “patent and copyright, land use, food and product standards, natural resources, professional licensing, government procurement, financial practices, healthcare, energy, telecommunications, and other service sector regulations.”
Lack of oversight
Normally free -trade agreements must be authorized by a majority of the House and Senate, usually in lengthy proceedings.
However, the White House is seeking what is known as “trade promotion authority” which would fast track approval of the TPP by requiring Congress to vote on the likely lengthy trade agreement within 90 days and without any amendments.
The authority also allows Obama to sign the agreement before Congress even has a chance to vote on it, with lawmakers getting only a quick post-facto vote…
The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations ­ like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America ­ are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” said Wyden.
However, Obama has so far refused to give Congress a copy of the draft agreement.
Regulates food, Internet, medicine, commerce
The TPP is “more than just a trade deal,” wrote Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch in a New York Times op-ed last June.
Only 5 of its 29 chapters cover traditional trade matters, like tariffs or quotas. The others impose parameters on nontrade policies. Existing and future American laws must be altered to conform with these terms, or trade sanctions can be imposed against American exports.”
Wallach and Beachy spotlighted several leaks in the proposed TPP text, including one that would regulate the price of medicine.
Pharmaceutical companies, which are among those enjoying access to negotiators as ‘advisers,’ have long lobbied against government efforts to keep the cost of medicines down. Under the agreement, these companies could challenge such measures by claiming that they undermined their new rights granted by the deal.”
Amnesty International USA warned draft TPP provisions related to patents for pharmaceuticals” (2)
Part of the key to this global-takeover resides in the fact that the Privatized-Outlaws have already stolen the real meaning and intent in the languages of the world. Lending themselves the right to use Newspeak and Double-Speak freely whenever they need to, to confound and confuse the public at will…
They have succeeded in turning all language into nothing but legalese that serves only the narrowest of interests and assures that all profits will be kept by the Ruling Oligarchs at the expense of every private person on the planet. This is one of the factors which the Icelandic idea has exposed, as they move toward Participatory-Public-Sustainability in a world where only privatized-outlaws and global-Corporate-Nationhood will be allowed to survive.
The sustainability of the planet is currently under threat by privatized-corporate interests. Their demand that requires corporate-interests to constantly-grow, without limitation, each and every quarter of every year is not sustainable in a world of finite resources.
Another clear requirement, if we are to survive in this world, is that media can no longer be privatized. The fact that this successful Icelandic project has been going on since 2007, with virtually no-word of their progress ever reaching American media, speaks for itself!
Turn the card back around, so that we can all share in what should have been ours all along?
The world has been reeling from the chaos of power-mad megalomaniacs for centuries: To the point that ordinary people have been totally left out of every discussion that has anything to do with the real-outcomes in any future that the global-ruling-classes seek!
Revisit these two articles and come to grips with the massive government lies that we’re actually living-in and under at this moment. Then maybe what’s happening in Iceland might not seem quite so unusual: In fact maybe with the truth of what we have been buying-into all this time might finally find enough real clarity to warrant taking action on your own? (3)
The public can no longer afford to put up with allowing the banks to be both Commercial Banks and Investment Banks at the same time. What we must do is to reinstate the laws that this government trashed: The final act of which came under Clinton’s destruction of the Glass-Stiegel Act. In brief we need to put the legislative chains back on that the bankers that were imposed after the 1929 phony-stock-market crash—immediately. But first we must kill the TPP dead in the water, forever!
1) Icelanders Overthrow Government and Rewrite Constitution After Banking Fraud-No Word From US Media – 1hr 43min 04 sec VIDEO
2) Obama secretly signing away U.S. sovereignty
3) Death of the Media
Government As God – 21min 07 sec VIDEO

How American Must A Product Be To Be Labeled “Made In The USA”?

This caribiner leash may have carried the "Truly Made in the USA" logo, but the truth is that it was an imported product.
This caribiner leash may have carried the “Truly Made in the USA” logo, but the truth is that it was an imported product.
As you finish up your holiday shopping this year, you might be feeling the desire to buy American-made products. Any number of things claim to be made in the USA, but that label itself is not an absolute guarantee that what you’re buying was indeed produced stateside. While there are federal standards for what qualifies as “Made in America,” there is no vetting or certification process that goes on before that label can be applied.
So a company could slap a made-in-USA sticker on its products and hope it doesn’t get caught, much like E.K. Ekcessories, an outdoor accessories company that the FTC recently accused [PDF] of deceptively marketing its products with labels like “Truly Made In the USA,” and statements on its website that its products were made at the company’s facilities in Utah.
That company has since settled with the FTC and agreed to stop falsely marketing its imported products as made in America, but who knows how many other products are out there just waiting to be caught in the same lie?
So what does it take to actually count as being made in the USA?
First off, there is no specific language that manufacturers must use. To the feds, statements like “Made in the USA” and “American-made” are effectively the same. They communicate to the consumer the notion that the product was produced within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or in U.S. territories.
Additionally, the made in America claim doesn’t need to be explicit. The FTC gives the following example:
A company promotes its product in an ad that features a manager describing the “true American quality” of the work produced at the company’s American factory. Although there is no express representation that the company’s product is made in the U.S., the overall — or net — impression the ad is likely to convey to consumers is that the product is of U.S. origin.
References to America in a product or brand’s name is a slightly trickier affair. For instance, the FTC likely won’t go after a product called USA Joysticks even if said joysticks are made in Vietnam, but if that same product were to be called “Made In USA Joysticks,” then it would likely have to fall into the made-in-USA guidelines.
Those guidelines require that a product carrying a “Made in USA” marketing claim with no immediate and clear qualifications must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S. or its territories.
The FTC takes “all or virtually all” to mean that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. Any foreign supplied parts or ingredients should be negligible.
It gives two examples to show how it determines whether foreign parts constitute a negligible portion of the end product. The first example is a gas grill that is assembled in the USA and whose only foreign-made parts are some tubing and the knobs for controlling the flame. In this case, the FTC says that the knobs and tubing are insubstantial enough and a Made In USA claim would be okay.
The second example is a Tiffany-style lamp where everything but the base of the lamp is supplied by U.S. companies. To the FTC, the base is too integral and substantial a portion of the end product, and so an unqualified Made In USA claim would not hold up to scrutiny.
Then there is the question of where the raw materials for various components came from. Again, this depends on how much of the end product is made up of those raw materials. A computer that has some parts which contain imported metal would likely pass muster, but a wrench made mostly out of imported metal would probably not. This does not necessarily hold true for clothing with the Made In USA label (see below).
For products that are assembled in the U.S. from a mix of foreign and domestic parts, manufacturers may make qualified marketing claims like “Made in USA of U.S. and imported parts,” “Assembled in the USA from Italian leather and Mexican wood,” or “60% U.S. Content.”
However, the FTC advises companies to tread lightly when making these kinds of qualified claims, as they still imply to consumers that a large portion of the manufacturing was done stateside.
The Commission warns against using the “Assembled in USA” claim for products where the only assembly done in America is what the FTC refers to as “screwdriver” assembly. That’s when all the major parts are already put together elsewhere then shipped to the U.S. to be quickly put together. Basically, if the work being done is no more complicated than putting together some IKEA shelves, it probably doesn’t qualify as “Assembled in America.”
One industry that has been prolific in touting “American made” claims is the automobile industry. The American Automobile Labeling Act requires that each vehicle manufactured for sale in the U.S. bear a label disclosing where the car was assembled, the percentage of equipment that originated in the U.S. and Canada, and the country of origin of the engine and transmission.
Even with these additional requirements, any automaker or clothing company making a “made in America” claim in its advertising would be held to the same criteria as other products.
The Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and Wool Products Labeling Act actually requires Made in USA labels on most clothing and other textile or wool household products if the final product is manufactured in the U.S. of fabric that is manufactured in the U.S., regardless of the country of origin of materials earlier in the manufacturing process. So an all-wool sweater may be made from wool that was grown entirely on another continent, but as long as the sweater itself is wholly made in the U.S., it gets the Made in USA label.
Textile or wool products that are partially manufactured in the U.S. and partially manufactured abroad must be labeled to show both foreign and domestic processing.

Obscure Government Agency Brings Criminal Charges against 107 Bankers, but Stays Clear of Wall Street

Source: All Gov.

A little-known federal office has demonstrated that bankers have not avoided criminal prosecution altogether since the 2008 financial crisis. Experts note, however, that those thrown in jail have largely been from small institutions, leaving counterparts at Wall Street powerhouses untouched.
The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) was originally created to oversee the government bailout of the auto and financial industries. But it has used its congressional authority to pursue bank executives who misused bailout funds.
To date, SIGTARP has gone after 107 senior bank officers, most of whom have been sentenced to prison, according to The Washington Post. Its work also has produced $4.7 billion in restitution paid to victims and the government.
Not bad for an agency with only 170 employees and a budget of $41 million, putting them at a disadvantage in terms of resources and manpower compared to government regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
What it lacks in size it makes up for in terms of criminal authority authorized by Congress. Unlike regulators, SIGTARP can issue search warrants, seize property and even make arrests.
But those targeted by SIGTARP have run community banks, not the national institutions that dominate Wall Street.
“Essentially, we’re looking for lies and greed,” SIGTAR chief Christy L. Romero told the Post. “Usually, people have gone to such great lengths to try to hide the schemes that we find that they end up violating several laws, which leads to long sentences.”
The average sentence given to those convicted of crimes as a result of SIGTARP investigations is five years and nine months, which is twice the length of the average sentence for white-collar crime in the U.S. SIGTAR currently has 150 ongoing criminal and civil investigations.
Mark Williams, a former bank examiner who teaches finance at Boston University, told the Post that it’s been less difficult for SIGTARP to go after the small fish.
“The amount of direct evidence of banker wrongdoing in these smaller bank cases is easier to show,” he said.
Williams added that SIGTARP’s work nonetheless sets “an important precedence that bad banker behavior will not be tolerated and [will be] aggressively prosecuted.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff

Jim Rickards – U.S. Depositors Are Worse Off Than Cypriots

Where The Heck Do You Put Your Money When Tapering Starts?

Wolf Richter
Exuberant wealth managers expect another phenomenally good year for stocks in 2014, followed by more great years. They see bonds and bond funds as a juicy investment that belongs in every diversified portfolio, damn the torpedoes. They’re the vast majority of wealth managers.
But there are some fretters scattered around, still, and they’re having a hard time, and they’re losing clients, and they’re pushed to the margins. No one wants to listen to them.
“I cannot imagine how we’ll explain a third crash in 15 years to our clients,” one of these fretters told me. He is no perma-bear. But he looks at corporate revenues and earnings, at risks piling up in the junk bond market, at IPO valuations, at a million things. And he is gently passing some of his thoughts on to his clients – which doesn’t go over very well.
The tricky undertaking of what to tell clients during these crazy times made it into the Wall Street Journal. Richard Saperstein, chief investment officer of Treasury Partners and an occasional guest on CNBC, sorts through the various aspects of the only thing that really matters these days: when the Fed might actually taper its $85-billion-a-month money-printing binge, rather than just talk about it.
“In 2013, the Fed purchased 70% of all new Treasuries that were issued,” he wrote nervously. This couldn’t go on forever. So the Fed would “likely” begin to taper in 2014, in compliance with prevailing if not mandatory market consensus. He didn’t say March. That would have fit nicely. But the fretters worry about December.
“Last summer, the Fed simply talked about tapering, causing the bond market to have one of the most dramatic declines in prices in 30 years,” he wrote. But the stock market continued to ratchet higher. This time, if the Fed actually tapers, rather than just talk about it, “there will logically be some disruption in the stock market.”
So the big question: “The challenge is how to advise clients during this pending change. It’s like you’re at a party and the keg is beginning to float. When do you leave the party? Where do you go?”
Central banks have created a unique, let’s say, situation. The Fed has printed over $3 trillion in five years – amounting to about 20% of GDP – and plowed it into Treasuries and Mortgage Backed Securities. This enormous artificial demand drove up prices and repressed yields. It spread from there. Other central banks have engaged in similar infinitely wise strategies. Consequence: the largest credit bubble in history. Junk bonds yielded at their peak less than an FDIC insured 5-year CD did before the financial crisis. Risk, any risk, and its costs, have been wrung out of the system.
Other asset classes ballooned in parallel: stocks, farmland, housing, art. Oh my, a 1969 Francis Bacon triptych changed hands at $142 million in November, the highest price ever paid at an art auction. Then there’s Bitcoin…. Wait, that’s not an asset class. We haven’t decided yet what it is, but whatever it is, it’s ballooning – and deflating – to the tune of 20% to 50%, sometimes on a daily basis.
The Fed has created an investment environment that no longer has much in common with investments per se, but has turned into a vast, high-stakes gambling den with only one bet: what is the Fed going to do next?
There are complications. The Fed might not do anything. It might just get lost in its own cacophony and confuse the gamblers and itself, as it had done over the summer. Whatever it’s going to do, at whatever pace – and even if it does nothing – the markets will react.Betting on the Fed, that’s what we’ve been reduced to over the past five years.
So, what does a wealth manager or a financial advisor tell clients? That a well-diversified portfolio full of inflated bonds, even more inflated stocks, bubbly real estate, outrageously expensive farmland, a Van Gough, and perhaps an early Francis Bacon will get them through the taper, and its aftermath, without hearing the hot air hissing out of these assets?
But it’s hard to find a place to hide. Are you going to sell one inflated asset, pay taxes on the gains, take the remaining proceeds and plow them into another inflated asset, hoping to escape the tornado forming on the horizon? Like rotate out of bond funds now that they’ve become unpalatable and dump that money into stocks, which are at all-time highs, just when corporate earnings growth is minuscule, and when revenue growth has trouble keeping up with inflation?
Or leave the proceeds in cash and gnash your teeth as the bank takes your money for free and lends it out at 5% or 8% or gambles with it and takes risks that, if they blow up, would force you later to bail out that very bank? In return, the bank pays you next to nothing for your money?
Cash in the bank is a despicable investment. The Fed has done everything so that you hateit. The Fed is giving banks all the cash they need for free. It is competing directly with you to make your life miserable if you want to hold cash. So suffer through this after you sell your bond funds? Or switch your money from one inflated asset into another – and remain exposed to the turbulence you see coming your way when the big taper hits the markets. That’s the choice the Fed has left us.
A “positive spiral effect?” Lenders are closing their eyes, auto sales are soaring, auto loan balances have jumped 15% in 12 months to an all-time high, and repossessions in the subprime segment have more than doubled. Read…. How Crazy Is The Auto Financing Frenzy?

Deutsche Bank: Stock Market Party Isn't Over

The stock market rally will continue due to a reserve of pent-up cash, according to Deutsche Bank.

Over the next three to four months, the bank estimates that it is likely to see approximately $169 billion in pent-up cash and short interest make its way into equities, CNBC reported.

"Each year for the last four years from December to April, investors have moved cash out of money markets into bond and equity funds," it said. "We see equities as the beneficiary of cash re-deployment in 2014 as equity inflows have been running at a steady $23 billion monthly pace since February."

Editor’s Note:
5 Reasons Stocks Will Collapse . . .

The bank estimates a 10 percent gain in the S&P 500 early in the new year, based on normal inflows from savings and buybacks in addition to $120 billion of pent-up demand making its way into U.S. equities.

Nearly $139 billion has been piling up in money markets due to concerns the Federal Reserve will soon begin to taper its asset purchases, Deutsche Bank said.

In addition, the S&P 500 short interest is at its highest since July 2012, which implies that investors are hedging expectations of a Fed tapering.

According to the bank, of the $65 billion of inflows the market has seen since May, shorting has pulled nearly half from the market.

"Short covering will see that money flow back into U.S. equities as catalysts pass such as the start of taper," Deutsche Bank explained.

Adam Parker, lead stock strategist for Morgan Stanley, predicts the S&P 500 index will climb to 2,014 in 2014, an 11 percent gain from the index's current level, he wrote in a report obtained by Barron's.

“The only thing people are worried about is that no one is worried about anything,” Parker wrote. “That isn’t a real worry.”

Goldman Sachs predicts the S&P 500 could drop 10 percent sometime in 2014, although it has a year-end target of 1,900, MarketWatch reported.

100 Years of Theft with Bill Still

The Federal Reserve became a hot-topic issue among youth during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Ron Paul. Young people flocked to the elderly statesman, as he rallied on about an organization nearly 100 years old.The Federal Reserve went from a organization about which most people knew little, to a front-topic issue. Many people protested in the streets, calling on the government to “abolish the Fed.”Some politicians have attempted to audit the Reserve, hoping to see how the mechanisms of the group work. They have so far, failed in their attempts to shed light on the institution.Many government officials, and some economists, say the Federal Reserve is needed to manage the economy. Without it, they predict devastating economic swings, and runaway inflation.Some critics question that assessment, saying the Reserve creates more problems than it solves.Bill Still is a writer and political activist. He has written extensively about the Federal Reserve. He is the filmmaker of “The Secret of Oz.” and “Jekyll Island.”LIVE:
Meet the Next News Team:
Hashtag: #N3About:
Next News Network’s WHDT World News program airs daily at 6pm and 11pm Eastern on Comcast, DirecTV and Over-the-Air and Online at World News is available to 6 million viewers from South Beach to Sebastian, Florida and to 2 million viewers in Boston, Massachusetts via WHDN.WHDT broadcasts on RF channel 44 (virtual channel 9) from Palm City and is carried on cable TV channels 44 (SD) and 1044 (HD) by AT&T, on cable channels 17 (SD) and 438 (HD) in West Palm Beach by Comcast, on satellite channel 44 (SD) in West Palm Beach by DIRECTV, and on WHDN-Boston which broadcasts on RF channel 38 (virtual channel 6) from the Government Center district in downtown Boston.More about WHDT:

One Nation Under The Federal Reserve Death Economy

The Federal Reserve and getting rid of the death economy of the US is discussed with Confessions of an Economic Hitman author John Perkins in this Buzzsaw interview clip. We look at the Kennedy push away from the Federal Reserve, and how all the presidents that have challenged it have been killed, plus the way the economy can be reoriented to create opportunities for all mankind with host Sean Stone.

Greece’s 2014 budget lays out more social attacks

By Christoph Dreier
11 December 2013
Late on Saturday evening, the Greek parliament adopted the 2014 budget, which proposes further social cuts and mass lay-offs.
Strikes and protests against these plans are increasing. Employees at Athens University have resisted the trade union leadership and are continuing their strike into its 14th week.
The budget, which was accepted by 153 votes to 142, plans spending cuts of €3.2 billion as well as €2.1 billion of tax increases. The cuts are mainly in the health care system, which is already in a catastrophic state, and in social insurance. The tax intake is to be increased through raising the property tax, which affects many ordinary workers in Greece.
As in every year since the outbreak of the crisis, the budget is based on optimistic projections of economic development. Experts have virtually ruled out the possibility that the economy will achieve the projected growth rate of 0.6 percent next year, after six years of recession. The current year’s social cuts will turn out to be much worse than presently estimated.
The parliament will hold an emergency vote on the property tax this week. In addition, a draft law to make repossessions of small houses and apartments easier to implement is to be adopted.
The “troika”—the European Union (EU) commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB)—has made passing both laws a precondition for a long-delayed release of a €1 billion bailout payment.
Before the loan is made available, a series of state companies are to be closed down or massively reduced in size, including the arms and engineering firm EAS. The troika has cancelled additional visits this year and will only return to Athens in January to evaluate the progress of the cuts.
This includes not only the new budget cuts, but also the previously agreed mass layoffs which are a central component of the 2014 budget. According to agreements reached with the troika, the Greek government has to transfer 25,000 public sector workers into a so-called mobility reserve this year, and lay off 4,000 workers immediately.
There are still between 1,000 and 1,500 outstanding layoffs, and the opposition to the mobility reserve is intensifying, as it is most often simply a transition to unemployment.
Administrative workers at universities are fighting against the halving of personnel and the transfer of 1,400 employees into the reserve.
Administrative workers at Athens University and the smaller technical university have been on strike uninterruptedly for the past thirteen weeks. The operations of the universities could not continue, as students and teaching staff supported the administrative employees.
The education ministry has threatened to place the administrative workers under martial law on several occasions, and has ordered police to disband strike pickets. Courts have declared the strike illegal. Disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against the university rector Theodosis Pelegrinis because he solidarised himself with the striking workers. Nonetheless, the workers remained determined and continued the strike.
By contrast, the university workers’ trade union (ODPTE) sought from the start to isolate the strike and to limit the solidarity action of other workers. Over the past week, the union leadership has tried to finally halt the strikes. The education ministry offered talks and cynically suggested that it would lay off fewer workers but then cut the pay of all workers to cover the costs.
At an assembly of the technical university last Thursday, the union leadership managed to win a majority for the ending of the strike and the starting of talks with the government. Subsequently, the ODPTE called on the halting of all strike activity across all universities.
Despite the threats of the government and the pressure of the unions, workers at Athens university decided on Monday to continue the strike until Wednesday and then to decide on its continuation. The university’s law faculty remains occupied by students.
The social confrontation at the universities is the sharpest expression of a more general development. The trade unions are increasingly less capable of suppressing the struggles of the workers, and the state is responding with mounting brutality.
Doctors at outpatient clinics have been on strike for two weeks against layoffs and have decided initially to maintain the strike until December 13. Health minister Adonis Georgiadis threatened the doctors that he would implement the job cuts more rapidly if they do not end their protest. Hundreds of doctors gathered before the health ministry last Friday. On Thursday and Friday, employees of the ministry of culture—which is also responsible for state museums and archeological sites—went on strike.
Over the past week, police attacked protests by school janitors and cleaners who were demonstrating against the loss of their jobs outside the ministry for administrative reform. The demonstrations to commemorate the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos in 2008 by the police were also the target of police violence.
The increasing brutality of the state is a direct reaction to the social devastation that the EU and Greek government have produced in the country. These conditions are not compatible with democratic rights for the population.
Last week, a thirteen-year-old girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Her unemployed mother’s electricity had been turned off, and due to the high taxes she could not afford heating oil. She therefore attempted to heat the apartment with a makeshift coal oven. An 86-year-old woman died in the same week due to the same reason. She had built an improvised oven.
Two people were severely injured last Thursday in a fire in their apartment, which had been caused by candles. Their electricity had also been turned off. Thousands of Greeks currently share the same fate, because they are unable to pay their bills. The government is in the process of discussing how to privatize the energy provider DEI while reducing energy costs for business.
The horrific unemployment rate of more than 27 percent has led to worsening working conditions that often border on slavery. According to a report, workers in a confectionary factory on Crete were beaten, burnt and humiliated. They received €3 per hour for shifts lasting fifteen hours.
An increasing number of jobs are offered on a voluntary basis, with workers receiving only board and lodgings but absolutely no remuneration. An additional 700,000 employees are not paid on time. There are an increasing number of cases in which sub-contractors, who are contractually obliged to pay a certain wage, go to their workers after the end of a shift and demand part of the wages back in cash.
With permission
Source: WSWS

ALERT NEWS Must Watch! MORE EVIDENCE There Will Be No December Fed Taper By Gregory Mannarino

ALERT NEWS The Trillion Dollar Student Debt Bubble Ready To Burst

America’s Retirement Crisis Grows as Cities Raid Pension and Health Plans

Detroit and Illinois aren’t the only ones stealing earned benefits.
Steven Rosenfeld
RINF Alternative News
Across America, states, counties and cities are taking steps that will make retirement for ex-public employees much harsher. Courts, politicans and corporations are all working together to chip away at deferred wages: reducing pensions or eliminating promised healthcare, or both. Said simply, they’re looting retirements and pushing people toward poverty.
This is the course unfolding in federal bankruptcy court for the city of Detroit. It is what the Illinois Legislature passed last week in a giant pension reform bill that excluded the city of Chicago, whose red ink reckoning comes next year. It’s what’s before California cities that have filed for backruptcy, or are seeking voter approval to cut into retirement benefits, such as Stockton, San Bernadino, Riverside and even wealthy San Jose.
In these and other government jurisdictions, the foremost question is not why legions of elected officals have failed to provide for the employees who did their jobs and made the cities function. Instead, the question seems to be how much they can plunder earned and pledged benefits, so they can avoid raising taxes or cutting services.
“News leaking out this week from the Motor City tells how the enormous gap between pensions workers earned and the money set aside to pay for them will be closed,” wrote David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. “By stealing from workers.”
The plundering of private sector pensions by corporate executives is nothing new. Books and columns by Johnston and other Pulitzer Prize winners have detailed how most S&P 500 companies have diverted mountains of cash from employee pensions to make their quarterly earnings look bigger, boost stock prices and fatten their annual bonuses—all unconscionable and corrupt acts that were perfectly legal, says Johnston, thanks to a Congress that rewrote the legal fine print at the behest of corporate lobbyists.
But the newest development in America‘s unfolding retirement security crisis concerns public employees—people who worked in schools, public safety departments, etc. and often are exempt from Social Security because they have other public retirement plans. For years if not decades, top fiscal managers in a mix of cities, counties and states didn’t put away what’s now hundreds of billions of dollars for civil service workers. Now, the same class of public sector executives are taking steps to cut these retirement packages. The question is not whether the cuts are coming, but how will they unfold.
Take Detroit’s bankruptcy filing. Beyond the exceptionally nasty politics surrounding the largest municipal bankruptcy in America, what was pivotal last week was a ruling by the federal bankruptcy judge that classified the promised retirement benefits as “unsecured” debt. That’s a subordinate class to “secured” debt holders, such as investors who bought bonds, and it means that the Court can order reduction in retiree benefits. The fact that Michigan’s state Constitution forbids this kind of breach of contract did not apply, the bankruptcy judge said, because a federal proceeding trumps state law. Without getting lost in the legal details, the big question is how big a hit will Detroit’s retirees take. A pension in the city averages $19,000 a year.
“This decision sets a terrible precedent,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director for the Pension Rights Center. “Allowing a city to cut its retirees’ pensions is a signal to other cities across the country that they don’t need to fund their pensions responsibly and that they can renege on these promises when they run into trouble… These are not big pensions.”
What’s up next for Detroit is that the city’s emergency financial manager—appointed by the state’s Republican governor—will come back to court with a schedule of proposed benefit cuts and other renegotiated contracts. That’s exactly the stage the California city of Stockton is at in its bankruptcy. It proposes to maintain its pensions but end retiree health benefits, raise the city’s sales tax and pay some bondholders 50 cents per owed dollar. In another California city, San Bernardino, the process is further along, with the city already filing its plan to shortchange creditors and some of them—notably the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS—objecting in court.
Outside bankruptcy court, a slightly different dance is occuring. Last week, the state of Illinois passed a pension reform bill that cuts back pensions by reducing cost-of-living adjustments over three decades, compared to the previous inflation formula. Chicago, which has less than half of what’s needed for its pensions and almost $900 million in unfunded retiree healthcare on top of that, hopes to present its plan early next year.
In almost all of these cases, the priority was cutting benefits—either in pensions, health plans or both—as opposed to making up the shortfall elsewhere. There also is a parallel push to shut down access to pensions, which is a deferred salary, by offering the newest employees only the option of opening a retirement savings account, as well as paying a larger share of their salary for healthcare.
“The assault on retirees today is greater now than at any other time,” said the Pension Rights Center’s Friedman. “We’re seeing it in Detroit. We’re seeing it in states that are trying to get rid of good pension plans. We’re seeing it in major corporations that are transferring pensions to insurance companies. We’re seeing it in Congress, where members are being heavily lobbied to introduce legislation that would allow multi-employer plans to cut retire pensions [a technicality that lowers the employer share]. And there are the ongoing efforts to cut back on Social Security.”
What is taking shape is a nationwide retirement security crisis. Experts like Johnston and Friedman are saying that for the first time in decades, tens of millions of elderly people will slide into poverty as they will be left with little more than Social Security to live on—which now averages $1,230 a month, and that’s before paying taxes on it, or Medicare fees.
The reason this is happening in the private sector, as Ellen Schultz noted in her book Retirement Heist, is that executives want to boost stock prices and cash out. In the public sector, it’s because government managers and legislators used retirement funds for all kinds of services instead of raising taxes. While powerful interests are working to steal other people’s money, average Americans are increasingly finding themselves on shaky ground.
“What I have seen in a lot of these cases is that people end up selling their homes,” Schultz told Forbes, when asked what happens to people whose pensions are cut. “Really the only safety blanket that you have is Social Security, which also is under assault. The same retirement industry that dismantled pensions would love to dismantle that program and have a crack at the assets.”

Murray-Ryan Budget Dumps 51.4% into Military -- Happy Human Rights Day!

By davidswanson - Posted on 10 December 2013
Excerpted from the press release pasted below:
"In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion."
This is an unbelievable outrage for Congress to churn out on International Human Rights Day while numerous members of Congress were off in South Africa claiming to support the use of nonviolence to effect change in the world.
How will the U.S. public react once the media lays bare this incredible proposal? Here's enough money to work wonders in green energy, infrastructure, actual humanitarian aid, education, and many other areas all combined.  This is an amount of money very difficult to comprehend, and it's being dumped into such unpopular projects as the ongoing war on Afghanistan.
One has to wonder how our Nobel Peace Prize laureate, "ender" of the war, President Barack Obama might respond should Congress send him such a budget.  I'm sure he'll be hard-pressed not to assume he's dreaming when he reads these numbers.  I'm sure ...
Oh, wait.  What?
Obama wanted 57% to go to militarism?

I see. I get it. Don't you get it? This is 18-dimensional chess. By proposing an outrageous budget, Obama motivated Congress to scale back to something slightly less outrageous. He never could have talked them into that. This took strategic planning and plotting.  Probably some people actually fell for it, actually thought Obama wanted funding for the wars he continues and launches. Pretty funny.
Murray Press Office:(202) 224-5398
Ryan Press Office: (202) 226-6100

Murray and Ryan Announce Bipartisan Budget-Conference Agreement
Two-year budget agreement would avoid government shutdown in January, provide certainty to businesses and families, and return budget process to regular order

Bipartisan agreement would provide sequester relief for defense and domestic priorities—fully offset by concrete savings and reforms—and further reduce the deficit

Short-term agreement breaks through partisan gridlock and can serve as foundation for continued bipartisan work

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that they have reached a two-year budget agreement in advance of the budget conference’s December 13th deadline.

“I’m proud of this agreement,” said Chairman Ryan. “It reduces the deficit—without raising taxes. And it cuts spending in a smarter way. It’s a firm step in the right direction, and I ask all my colleagues in the House to support it.”

“This agreement breaks through the recent dysfunction to prevent another government shutdown and roll back sequestration’s cuts to defense and domestic investments in a balanced way,” said Chairman Murray. “It’s a good step in the right direction that can hopefully rebuild some trust and serve as a foundation for continued bipartisan work.”

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion—about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.

The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling approximately $85 billion. The agreement would reduce the deficit by between $20 and $23 billion.

The House of Representatives is expected to take up the Bipartisan Budget Act first, followed by the Senate. If this bill is signed into law, the appropriations committees will then be able to work on spending bills at an agreed-upon level in advance of the January 15th deadline.

The Economic Recovery is a “Statistical Illusion”: More Misleading Official Employment Figures

Source: Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The payroll jobs report for November from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the US economy created 203,000 jobs in November. As it takes about 130,000 new jobs each month to keep up with population growth, if the payroll report is correct, then most of the new jobs would have been used up keeping the unemployment rate constant for the growth in the population of working age persons, and about 70,000 of the jobs would have slightly reduced the rate of unemployment. Yet, the unemployment rate (U3) fell from 7.3 to 7.0, which is too much for the job gain. It seems that the numbers and the news reports are not conveying correct information.
As the payroll jobs and unemployment rate reports are released together and are usually covered in the same press report, it is natural to assume that the reports come from the same data. However, the unemployment rate is calculated from the household survey, not from payroll jobs, so there is no statistical relationship between the number of new payroll jobs and the change in the rate of unemployment.
It is doubtful that the differences in the two data sets can be meaningfully resolved. Consider only the definitional differences. The payroll survey counts a person holding two jobs as if it were two employed persons, while the household survey counts a person holding two jobs as one job. Also the two surveys treated furloughed government workers during the shutdown differently. They were unemployed according to the household survey and employed according to the payroll survey.
To delve into the meaning of the numbers produced by the two surveys, keep in mind that payroll jobs can increase simply because the birth-death model used to estimate the numbers of unreported business shutdowns and startups can underestimate the former and overestimate the latter.
The unemployment rate can decline simply because the definition of the work force excludes discouraged workers. Thus, an increase in the number of discouraged workers can lower the measured rate of unemployment.
Before reviewing this, let’s first assume that the story of 203,000 new payroll jobs in November is correct. Where does the BLS say these jobs are? Are these the long-missing New Economy jobs that we were promised in exchange for giving China our well-paid manufacturing jobs and giving India our well-paid professional service jobs?
Unfortunately, no.
According to BLS, the jobs are mainly the same lowly-paid, part-time, nontradable domestic service jobs that I have been reporting for a decade or longer.
BLS reports that 17,000 jobs are in construction. On the surface this looks like some slight pickup in housing, but less than 5,000 of the jobs are in residential and nonresidential construction. The bulk of the claimed jobs are in “specialty trade contractors.” Specialty trade contractors are involved in repairs, alterations, and maintenance, but some of the work pertains to site preparation for new construction.
The BLS also claims 27,000 jobs in manufacturing. What precisely is being manufactured? Apparently, very little. The manufacturing jobs are spread over about 23 categories.
The manufacture of wood products gained 600 jobs. (Keep in mind that we are talking about a population over 300,000,000, and a participating work force of approximately 155,000,000.) Nonmetallic mineral products experienced, according to the BLS, 2,000 new jobs. Machinery gained 300 new jobs. Computer and electronic products gained 500 new jobs. Electrical equipment and appliances gained 600 jobs. Transportation equipment gained 4,900 jobs. Furniture manufacture gained 2,100 jobs (apparently to fill the foreclosed unoccupied houses). Food manufacturing gained 7,800 jobs. Petroleum and coal products gained 1,600 jobs, chemicals gained 2,200 jobs, and plastics and rubber products gained 1,300 jobs.You can review the remaining categories on the BLS site.
Most the rest of the 203,000 jobs–152,000–were in lowly paid domestic nontradable services (nontradable means that the jobs do not produce a service that can be exported), such as retail trade with 22,300 jobs, transportation and warehousing with 30,500 jobs, temporary help services with 16,400 jobs, ambulatory health care services with 26,300 jobs, home health care services with 11,800 jobs, and the old reliable waitresses and bartenders with 17,900 jobs.
This is the jobs profile of the American super economy. It is the profile of India 30 or 40 years ago.
Are even these lowly paid part-time domestic jobs really there? Perhaps not. According to statistician John Williams (, the government shutdown and reopening, the birth-death model, and concurrent-seasonal-adjustment problems can result in misstated jobs.
The unemployment rate is affected by not counting discouraged workers who cannot find employment. No discouraged unemployed worker and no person forced to work in a part-time job because he cannot find full-time employment is counted in the 7.0 unemployment rate (U3).
To be included in the U3 unemployment rate, an unemployed person has to have looked for a job in the past four weeks. Those who have looked for a job until they are blue in the face and have given up looking are not counted in the U3 rate. In November any unemployed workers, discouraged by the absence of jobs, who ceased to look for employment were dropped from the labor force that U3 considers to be the base for the measure of unemployment. Thus, if unemployed workers move into the discouraged category, the rate of unemployment falls even if not a single person finds a job.
The government has a second unemployment rate, U6, about which little is heard. This rate counts workers who have been discouraged for less than one year. This unemployment rate is 13.2 %, almost double the reported rate.
In other words, the U3 measure of unemployment can decline for two different reasons: the economy can create more employment opportunities or people become discouraged and stop looking for jobs. Discouraged workers move into the U6 category where they are counted as unemployed until they have been discouraged for more than one year when they are no longer officially considered to be part of the labor force. The U6 unemployment rate can rise as short-term discouraged workers are dropped out of the U3 measure and moved into the U6 measure, and the U6 rate can fall when the workers become long-term discouraged and are officially removed from the labor force.
Think about this for a minute. The BLS admits that the US unemployment rate that includes people who have been discouraged about finding a job for less than one year is 13.2%. The official line is that the US economy has been enjoying a recovery since June 2009. How is there a recovery when 13.2% of the population is unemployed?
This question becomes even more pointed when the long-term–more than one year–discouraged workers who cannot find a job are included in the measure of unemployment. The US government does not provide such a measure. However, John Williams ( does. His estimate produces a 23.2% rate of US unemployment. An increase in the number of long-term discouraged workers is consistent with the drop in the US labor force participation rate from 66% in December 2007 to 63% in November 2013.
There is no such thing as a recovery with 23.2% unemployment.
So, if there is no economic recovery, why are stock and bond prices so high, at all-time records? The answer is simple. The Federal Reserve is printing $1,000 billion new dollars annually and the newly created money is going into the bond and stock markets, driving them to high bubble levels.
So here sits the US economy with substantial unemployment, with massive trade and budget deficits that are taxing the US dollar’s credibility, with the labor force participation rate declining because there are no jobs to be found, and we are enjoying economic recovery with bond and stock prices at historic highs.
If this isn’t enough of a puzzle, consider the official second estimate of third quarter GDP growth. According to this estimate, the US economy expanded at a 3.6% rate in the third quarter; yet official U6 unemployment is 13.2%.
And if you believe the government, there is no inflation either. Yes, I know, your grocery bills go up each month.
Keep in mind that many of the new November payroll jobs could reflect seasonal hiring gearing up for the Christmas sales season. Remember, the payroll survey counts one person with two part-time jobs as two jobs.
Economic recovery requires a growth in real median family income and/or an increase in consumer debt, and, except for a rise in student loan debt, there is no sign of either.
US real median household income has declined from $56,189 in 2007 to $51,371 in 2012, a decline of $4,818 or 8.6%. [1]
US real per capita income has declined from $29,554 in 2007 to $27,319 in 2012, a drop of $2,235 or 7.5%.
How do consumers take on more debt in order to finance their consumption when their real incomes are falling? The growth in consumer credit outstanding is due to student loan growth.
I have not seen the establishment’s explanation of how recovery can occur without growth in real purchasing power either from rising real incomes or rising consumer indebtedness.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1,277,000 fewer seasonally adjusted payroll jobs in November 2013 than in December 2007.
How it is possible for the economy to have been in recovery since June 2009 (according to the National Bureau of Economic Research) and there are 1,277,000 fewer jobs today than existed six years ago prior to the recession?
How has real Gross Domestic Product recovered when jobs and real consumer incomes have not?
These are among the many questions that go unasked and unanswered.
Statistician John Williams says that the economic recovery is a statistical illusion created by deflating nominal GDP with an understated measure of inflation.