Friday, May 21, 2010

Our SIXTH Warning: Dow in Danger!

By my count, this is at least our SIXTH clear, unambiguous warning of danger in the Dow — sent to you in just the last 60 days!

On March 27, Mike Burnick warned you — right here in Money and Markets — that the big stock market rally of 2009-2010 “could come to a crashing end at any time.”

Also here in Money and Markets, Claus Vogt told you The Stock Market Is Starting to Look Toppy on April 21 … issued A Clear Warning Sign — Global Liquidity Is Drying Up one week later … and then, just in case you missed the first two, told you AGAIN that A Topping Formation Is Taking Shape on May 12.

On the same day, Larry Edelson, Mike Larson, and I held an emergency briefing online, with our FIFTH warning: “A good rule of thumb,” Mike said, “is to sell half of your excess holdings now and then revisit the balance when you get a good rally.” But … “even when you get the rally, it is very easy to forget the crisis. Things may appear to have quieted down, but it’s really going to be just the next calm before an even bigger storm that is coming.” (See transcript in Sovereign Debt Crisis: Emergency Strategy Update.)

Now, here’s our 6th warning …

The Dow’s 1000-point “flash crash” of two weeks ago was NOT a fluke! Nor is today’s 376-point slide in the Dow!

These events are lightning bolts that strike deep into the market’s core … and that help light up the path ahead for anyone willing to look.
In his flash alert to Safe Money readers earlier today, Mike Larson explains it this way:

“Some of the latest economic data has shown a cooling in global demand and a loss of investor confidence. Many early warning signs of credit stress are also flashing yellow. Volatility indices are on the rise … financial institutions are charging each other more to borrow money in the interbank market … and interest rate swap spreads are blowing out in the derivatives arena.

“These are the same kinds of indicators we saw go nuts before the 2008 crash. We’re still nowhere near the widespread panic levels we reached back then, but the trend is what matters and it’s very unsettling.”

These signals all confirm what we’ve been telling you for the last 60 days:

1. The great rally since March of 2009 is — or will soon be — over.

2. Despite its impressive duration and magnitude, that rally was little more than a temporary interlude — an intermission between two phases of a greater bear market.

3. The first phase came in the wake of the great Housing and Debt Crisis of 2008-2009, wiping out as much as HALF of America’s stock values.

4. The second phase has struck with the Great Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, and it’s just now getting under way.

Bottom line: If you have followed our recommendations to …

  • stay away from vulnerable U.S. stocks …

  • hold plenty of cash …

  • use intermediate rallies to reduce your exposure even further and …

  • hedge your remaining portfolio with inverse ETFs …

Then, you’re in good shape!

If not, what are you waiting for? How many more warnings must we issue? Please don’t delay. Move swiftly to get your money to safety.

Good luck and God bless!


FDIC next government trillion dollar bailout? Since January of 2000 to October of 2007 we had 27 bank failures.....

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will be the next billion and possibly trillion dollar government bailout. We have the FDIC that insures over 8,000 banks with an insurance fund that is in the negative. From 2000 to October of 2007 only 27 banks were closed down by the FDIC. Nearly eight full years and 27 banks were shut down in the face of epic gambling from the banking industry. Since the recession started, the FDIC has closed down 237 banks with more to come. Without a doubt, given the enormous amount of bad debt and commercial real estate loans we will have 1,000 bank failures by the time this recession is over. Is this so hard to envision? In April, 17 banks were closed and so far in May, 15 banks have seen their doors shut. The rate of bank failures is increasing.

Why will this happen? Because there are at least 763 more banks that are full to toxic waste in the U.S.:

Even the FDIC has 700 banks on their troubled institution list. Keep in mind failures like WaMu and IndyMac which cost billions of dollars weren’t even on the initial list. The issue at hand is you have 4 banks that dominate 55 percent of all banking assets:

We already know that the government is unwilling to break up these banks in an orderly fashion. But the other 8,000 banks don’t have this guarantee. In fact, if you look at this from a corrupt banking perspective, a giant amount of bank failures is good for these few gigantic banks. Customers will have less banking options and will have to rely on a tiny group of banks that run like monopolies. This will provide a fertile ground for anti-competitive practices and will result in unfriendly consumer products in the end. We’ve already seen that. These bailouts simply help to consolidate power and transfer wealth to a select few in the economy.

Then on the other hand, you have the FDIC spending millions if not billions each week closing down banks. We are told that the FDIC is completely solvent. But at this rate it will be broke rather soon (the DIF is already negative although they have a bit more in cash reserves by front-running premiums for years to come). Don’t think this will happen? Here is irony for you; the FDIC which insures banks needs insurance from the U.S. Treasury:

“(FDIC) Chairman Bair distinguished the DIF’s reserves from the FDIC’s cash resources, which included $22 billion of cash and U.S. Treasury securities held as of June 30, as well as the ability to borrow up to $500 billion from the Treasury. “A decline in the fund balance does not diminish our ability to protect insured depositors,” Chairman Bair concluded.”

You know exactly where this is heading. Why put that $500 billion figure out there? Why not $20 billion or $50 billion? If we’ve learned any lesson with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or AIG is that Wall Street will raid the taxpayer for every penny they have and use supposed government entities to dump their junk onto the public.

Consider the two giant GSEs for a moment. You hear Wall Street berate these companies but banks would have zero mortgage market if it wasn’t for them. Wall Street investment banking is a giant group of crony welfare capitalist that is anti-competitive and has perverted the current economy. I read current articles on how some people are surprised of the current market volatility. What do you expect? 27 months of the worst recession since the Great Depression and no fundamental change has happened in the way Wall Street conducts business.

The DIF at the FDIC is in the red:

“(FDIC) The Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) balance improved for the first time in two years. The DIF balance – the net worth of the fund – increased slightly to negative $20.7 billion, from negative $20.9 billion (unaudited) on December 31, 2009. The fund balance reflects a $40.7 billion contingent loss reserve that has been set aside to cover estimated losses. Just as banks reserve for loan losses, the FDIC has to set aside reserves for anticipated closings. Combining the fund balance with this contingent loss reserve shows total DIF reserves of $20 billion. Total insured deposits increased by 1.3 percent ($70.0 billion) during the first quarter.”

This is the latest press release for Q1 of 2010. It has gotten worse. In one week in Q2 the FDIC had to pay out roughly $7 billion on 7 bank failures in one week. You know where this is going and everything has become one giant bailout.

FDIC insured institutions have assets of $13 trillion. We have $3 trillion in commercial real estate loans and many banks are valuing these loans at optimistic day prices that were up to $6 trillion at their peak. Just with CRE we will see at least $1 trillion in losses.

Gear up for another taxpayer bailout although the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve don’t even have the money for that.

Suppressing the Cognitive Dissonance of a Bogus Recovery

Despite a 24/7 campaign of carefully managed "good news," 76% of Americans do not believe the U.S. "recovery." Hmm, I wonder why?

A massive outbreak of economic cognitive dissonance is being suppressed with wave after wave of manufactured "good news." Every visibly negative bit of data is run through a media and Central State assembly line to refashion it as "good news" and "evidence" that the "nascent recovery is taking hold." Whatever cannot be rejiggered is simply buried or suppressed.

The fact that five corporations control the the vast majority of the U.S. mainstream media certainly aids that manufacturing process.

Let's run through a few of the most blatant examples of suppressed dissonance:

1. If the economy is recovering so strongly ( +3% GDP growth in the first quarter!) then why are tax revenues down? Federal budget deficit hits April record: The April deficit soared to $82.7 billion. Total revenues for April were down 7.9 percent from a year ago. In the seven months of this year, corporate tax receipts are up 8.9% to $77.1 billion. The same cannot be said of individual income tax revenue, which is down 11.6% in the first seven months to $500.8 billion.

Through the first seven months of the current budget year, which began on Oct. 1, the deficit totals nearly $800 billion. That is down only slightly from last year's deficit during the same period of $802 billion. Revenues total $1.2 trillion in those seven months, down 4.5 percent from the same period last year.

How can tax revenues be falling when the economy is "growing strongly"? As for those corporate profits: corporate profits register biggest year-over-year gain in 25 years.

As this chart from the Federal Reserve shows, non-financial corporate profits were almost 14% of GDP before the global meltdown. In a $13 trillion economy, that's $1.8 trillion.

But much of the "good news" in Corporate America is not quite as rosy as presented.

2. Rising corporate profits mask falling sales. Consider Walmart's last report, which caused the financial media to quiver in ecstasy because the retailer logged a 10% increase in profits. But behind the hype, (profits rose $0.3 billion on $99 billion in sales, whoopie), Walmart same-store sales drop; gross margins decline.

You have to read to the very last line to get to the sobering reality: same-store sales dropped in the U.S. and gross margins declined. Both are bad news, yet you'd never know it from the lead paragraphs and talking heads.

3. Corporate profits are boosted with special charges and other accounting trickery. It takes a forensic accounting analysis of corporate filings to discern what's real and what's been juiced to boost quarterly "earnings."

Meanwhile, corporations are loading up on debt again: Junk bonds-- essentially risky bets on future corporate earnings--made up the biggest share of corporate debt sales on record last year. That hardly suggests prudence on the part of the companies loading up on tens of billions of dollars of high-interest debt. Load the company with debt, goose profits, cash out the big bonuses and then let the balance sheet implode.

4. Much of global corporate America's earnings resulted from the weak dollar. Now that boost to the bottom line has largely vanished in the collapse of the euro.

Many of America's premiere global companies earn most of their revenue overseas. Equipment maker Eaton, for instance, gets 55% of its sales from outside the U.S. Global companies such as Coca-Cola not only reap most of their sales overseas-- they also depend on international growth to boost their profits.

As the U.S. dollar has risen 25% against the euro, the U.S. multinationals' plump profits (in dollars) will take a huge hit. Indeed, American multinationals such as Caterpiller have already seen their stocks pummeled as traders realize the dollar's rise will slice their profits.

Here's how the weak dollar boosted U.S. corporate profits. In mid-2008, when a U.S. company booked 100 euros in profit made overseas, that translated into $160 in profits when calculated in U.S. dollars. Now that same 100 euros in profit translates into $122—a huge reduction.

If that wasn't bad enough, our major trading partners are heading into epic slowdowns. As the wheels fall off the credit/housing bubble in China--the global engine for commodities and manufacturing--and the credit storm takes down Europe--the world's largest trading bloc--U.S. corporate sales and profits will suffer.

5. Income inequality has risen to 1929 levels. If times are indeed good, they're only good for the top 5% of households. The bottom 80% have seen their net worth and incomes decline. So much for "trickle-down" prosperity.

6. U.S. households remain mired in debt. U.S. households took on too much debt and the consequences are still unfolding: 14% of mortgages delinquent or in foreclosure. This is only the above-water part of the iceberg; banks are holding tens of thousands of loans out of foreclosure lest their insolvency become too obvious. Tens of thousands of homes are being hidden in the "shadow inventory" of homes which are in default but which are not listed for sale.

Resetting the mortgage payments down a few dollars will do nothing to change the massive over-indebtedness: Home-Loan Aid Proves Little Help For Those With Other Big Bills to Pay.

7. Another wave of mortgage resets has yet to hit--housing's bogus "recovery" will dissolve like a sand castle in a tsunami.

8. The U.S. banking system is still rotten to the core. The list of ills in the U.S. banking industry is long indeed, but perhaps one fact reveals how little has been changed in the past few years of turmoil: U.S. commercial banks (not investment banks) generated a record $22.6 billion in derivatives trading revenues in 2009--the same year that the Federal Reserve spent trillions of dollars to prop up the U.S. mortgage market and the banking sector.

While massive Federal intervention staved off systemic insolvency last year, many U.S. banks remain effectively insolvent.

9. The U.S. trade imbalance is growing again. Though imports fell in the recession, imports rose 18% from the second quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, the trade deficit adds to the nation's indebtedness. Though the trade deficit has dropped from the 2006 peak at $800 billion, it is still on track to reach $500 billion in 2010.

10. Economic "intelligence" is essentially propaganda.Despite the daily flood of financial and economic data, pundits, government agencies and forecasters were caught off-guard by the subprime mortgage crisis, the resulting banking crisis and now once again by the European banking storm and sovereign debt crisis.

Many official economic-intelligence reports are of questionable forecasting value. As I reported previously, Federal budget projections are consistently overly rosy and the nation's GDP was recently "adjusted" down 37% in one fell swoop.

This is a recurring pattern: "good news numbers" are released with much "nascent recovery" fanfare, and then quietly revised down to statistical noise a few weeks later.

Earlier this year, the Labor Department revised the nation's employment for December 2009 down by a staggering 1.39 million, bringing the total number of jobs lost since the start of the recession to 8.4 million. The culprit was the department's "birth-death model," which creates phantom jobs every month based on the idea that thousands of small businesses are being "born" and hiring workers, despite little to no evidence for this hiring in the real world.

With "economic intelligence" like this, no wonder 76 percent of Americans believe that the US economy remains in recession.

That must be sobering for the Central State propaganda complex and the mainstream corporate media: all their efforts to persuade the average American that they are doing better financially have failed to suppress the evidence for economic decay which is so abundant in the real world.

U.S. companies lobby Congress on derivatives-WSJ

At least 42 nonfinancial companies and trade associations are lobbying the U.S. Congress to push back on proposals that regulate the over-the-counter derivatives market, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday.

Stocks | Regulatory News | Global Markets

Citing its own analysis of lobbying disclosure forms filed through April, the paper said the companies include Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N), Boeing Co (BA.N) and 3M Co (MMM.N), according to the paper.

Caterpillar believes new regulations may drive U.S. companies to seek financing overseas, the paper said.

The paper also quoted Janet Yeomans, treasurer of 3M, as writing in a letter to U.S Senator Mike Crapo: "Not all derivatives have put the financial system at risk and they should not all be treated the same."

Caterpillar, Boeing and 3M could not be immediately reached for comment by Reuters.

President Barack Obama last month laid out his vision for recrafting U.S. financial regulation, vowing to halt "a cascade of mistakes ... over the course of decades" that eroded bank and market oversight. [ID:nN17330766]

The plan included imposing oversight of over-the-counter derivatives as well as unspecified "harmonizing" of futures and securities regulation, and stronger safeguards for payment and settlement systems. (Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by David Holmes)

The Greek People are the Victims of a Carefully Engineered Financial Extortion Racket

What is happening in Greece concerns all of us. The people are paying for a crisis and a debt that are not their own. Today it is the Greeks, tomorrow it will be others, for the same causes will produce the same effects if we allow it.

First and above all, we express our full and unconditional solidarity with the people who are suffering from an austerity plan without precedent combined with contempt and an arrogance bordering on racism. The strikes and demonstrations are legitimate, and we support them. This is not the crisis of the Greek people, it is the crisis of the world capitalist system. What the Greek people are experiencing is revealing of today’s capitalism. The plan dictated by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rides roughshod over the most elementary rules of democracy.

If this plan is implemented, it will result in a collapse of the economy and of peoples’ incomes without precedent in Europe since the 1930s. Equally glaring is the collusion of markets, central banks and governments to make the people pay the bill for the arbitrary caprice of the system. [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy still dares to talk of the need to regulate the market, although all the measures he implements are more liberal than ever. The movement is accompanied by a deadening consensus of the Right and the Left. The plan is designed by European governments of the Right and Left – and by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the IMF, an institution that has ravaged the Third World for decades and is now attacking Europe. A plan that is implemented by a Socialist government, [Greek Prime Minister] George Papandreou's, the French side of which is adopted by the UMP [Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, a centre-right party] and the SP [Socialist Party of France] members of parliament combined.

Background to the Crisis

The Greek debt crisis is the third tier of a more global crisis that began in the summer of 2008 in the United States. The financial speculation engaged in by the major western banks led the world to the brink of the abyss and plunged the economy into recession. Escalating unemployment, flagging incomes and purchasing power are the principal consequences. Governments have saved this financial capitalism, resuscitated the banks, relaunched capitalism with hundreds of billions of Euros and dollars, thereby causing an explosion in debts and deficits and putting the more fragile states such as Greece in a difficult position.

Now the markets, having digested the crisis, are attacking government debts and speculating on the future of the weakest. What an exemplary lesson on the amorality of a system that is able, in one year, to survive thanks to the IV [intravenous] drip of the state and then to plunge the state itself into a speculative punishment. A speculation that is now embarking on an assault on Spain, while awaiting further victims. When French Prime Minister François Fillon announced May 5 that painful measures were in store to “avoid indebtedness like Greece,” he also announced an austerity plan, one element of which is a reappraisal of the right to retire at age 60.

In fact, a three-year freeze on public spending will entail a freeze on civil servants’ wages and job cutbacks in the hospitals, schools and other public services that people need in order to confront the social catastrophe engendered by the crisis. In contrast, the future is guaranteed for tax expenditures that have generously awarded a thousand or so of the privileged with an average refund of 376,000 Euros apiece.

Double Standards

The Greek measures overwhelmingly approved by the European governments consist of attacking social rights because, under the rules of globalized capitalism applied by these governments, Europe is losing ground in the global competition with the United States and the emerging countries. Their solution is to regain competitiveness through a reappraisal of the standard of living and social protection achieved in Europe by decades of mobilization of the workers movement. An unending spiral toward the bottom. And imagine, they sold us the Maastricht treaties, the European Constitution treaty, and the Lisbon treaty as the premises for the construction of a European social and welfare network! What utter nonsense, when we relate this promise to the bleeding imposed upon the Greeks – at 5% interest, moreover. The European banks can continue to grow rich on the Greek austerity plan, although they are the ones most responsible for the world economic chaos. By the same token, there is nothing humanitarian about voting for an “assistance plan” like that in the National Assembly. By joining in the government decision, the SP lines up on the side of finance and not the oppressed.

The European Union, far from being supportive, knows how to play the usurer on the back of a people’s misery. The common declaration of Mr. Sarkozy and [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel that they will save the Euro zone by reinforcing “budget surveillance” of states failing to adhere to the objectives of the stability pact is an illustration of this. In liberal Europe, governments are allowed to contravene the stability pact only when they are opening the public assistance taps for the banks. Humanity can wait.

Yet, never has there been such urgency to the need for a social, ecological and anticapitalist Europe of solidarity. None of the problems can be met within national borders. We are all Greek workers subject to the same logic. The debt of the governments is the product of twenty-five years of liberalism and the slashes in the taxes of the wealthiest – on corporate incomes, capital and shareholders’ dividends. Twenty-five years of an ongoing decline in the payroll taxes imposed on employers and the well-heeled. This crisis is not ours. In Greece, as elsewhere in Europe, it need not be paid for by us.

Our Demands, Our Alternatives

That is why we demand the cancellation of the Greek debt. To reject the austerity plans, to divest the banks of the control they exercise over the economy and society, to substitute a single European public banking service in place of the European Central Bank, with a monopoly over credit, is to fight for the cancellation of the debts and for a genuine European construction: that of the peoples and the workers, of a convergence of their struggles, for a social and ecological Europe of solidarity. If we do not initiate this about-turn, to build another Europe, the sovereigntist and nationalist logic, with its trail of xenophobia, will get the upper hand. The sprint has begun.

To proceed with the common currency, all liberal governments, Right and Left alike, managed to impose drastic economic convergence criteria. The time has now come to impose some social convergence criteria with a European minimum wage, a right of European workers and their organizations to veto layoffs, and some social and democratic rights based on the most favourable national legislation. Such a project must be led by a new political force reaching beyond national borders, a European anticapitalist left that is built step by step. The entire radical left should give careful thought to the lesson of Greece.

This radical left everywhere faces a hard choice between independence from the Social Democracy or incorporation within a management majority with the liberal left. We all want to fight the Right in Europe, as in France, and that means creating alternative channels, not the programmed “alternance” already baptized in France by the Socialist Party as “Gauche solidaire” – solidarity with the speculators, as in the Greek situation. •

Olivier Besancenot and Pierre-François Grond are members of the executive committee of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) in France.

What the Europe Debt Bomb Looks Like

Financial reform fraud

Joel Skousen reports:

Campaign Finance Reform didn’t stop the political payoff system and only restricted private political speech. Health Care Reform did nothing to stop all of the evils of the government and business subsidized insurance system, but it did destroy our liberty to choose. Likewise, Financial Services reform was written many months ago by insiders who will give it the appearance of reform, but it will do nothing by put a regulatory noose around those few financial institutions that remain in this country–who were not part of the problem.

All government regulation (aka “reform”) is designed to create and maintain monopolies.

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Pan-European Bank Run Is Now On: Capital Flight From UK To Switzerland, As GBPCHF Intervention Strikes Next

Yesterday we disclosed that the reason for numerous SNB interventions in the EURCHF was due to billions in deposits rushing out of Germany and seeking the relative stability of Swiss neutrality.

A quick look at the trading pattern of the GBPCHF shows that it is now UK depositors who are panicking and shifting their money to unnamed (not so much anymore) Zurich bank vaults.

The result: a 300 pip move in the GBPCHF as the SNB rushes to put out this particular capital flight fire. Too bad it only succeeded for about 12 hours. The run on the bank (to another bank) in Europe is now on.

Pan European Bank Run Is Now On: Capital Flight From UK To Switzerland, As GBPCHF Intervention Strikes Next GBPCHF

Live Feed From Athens As 100,000 Greeks Go On Strike, Consider Storming Parliament Again

The last time Greeks were shown to be storming their parliament on live TV, we got a 1,000 point drop on the Dow Jones. Today, another 100,000 protesters of austerity are expected to hit the streets as the entire country is essentially shut down. From the BBC: “Much of Greece’s transport network has been immobilised, as trade unions stage another 24-hour general strike against austerity measures. Ferries are tied up in port, railway stations shut, and the Labour Ministry occupied by communist protesters. Organisers are hoping that up to 100,000 people will join protests on the streets later.

There are fears of renewed violence after protests in Athens two weeks ago led to the deaths of three people. The country’s main civil service and public sector unions say they represent some 2.5 million workers. “People are bleeding financially but they will participate in the strike,” Ilias Vrettakos, a senior member of the ADEDY union, was quoted as saying by Reuters.” And for those who wish to follow the strike and potential Storming Of The Parliament Part 2, here is a live feed from the main Parliament square.

Live Feed From Athens As 100,000 Greeks Go On Strike, Consider Storming Parliament Again  greekcrowd

Program to Spot Terrorists a $200 Million Sham

Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad was arrested after boarding a plane for Dubai, even though the government is spending $200 million a year on a program that's supposed to spot terrorists before they reach the gate. A hidden layer of airport security called "behavior detection," involves specially trained Transportation Security Administration employees whose job is to spot terrorists by looking for unique facial expressions and body language. About 3,000 of these officers work at 161 U.S. airports.. But CBS News has learned the program hasn’t caught a single terrorist. A Government Accountability Office investigation uncovered 16 people later accused of involvement in terrorist plots flew 23 times through U.S. airports since 2004. Yet none were stopped by behavior detection officers. Stephen Fienberg, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said: "TSA is doing a number of things in the area of behavior detection and I personally think that some of them are shams." Source

Mass. bankruptcy filings rose nearly 30%

Bankruptcy filings rose 27 percent nationwide and nearly 30 percent in Massachusetts in the past 12 months ending March 31, according to the Administrative Office of the US Courts.

More than 1.5 million US businesses and individuals filed for bankruptcy, the highest number of filings since 2006, just before Congress made it tougher to file for some people to file for bankruptcy. In Massachusetts the figures jumped from 17,131 to 22,249 for the 12 months ending in March, compared to the same period a year earlier.

Despite the jump, Massachusetts still ranked just 35th in bankruptcies per capita. The largest jump nationwide during the period was in Arizona, where filings jumped 69.2 percent to 27,690. Nationally, Nevada ranked first in bankruptcies per capita with 11.7 filings per 1,000 residents, more than triple the rate for Massachusetts. Tennessee ranked second, followed by Georgia, Indiana, and Alabama.

More data can be found here.

Texas leaders announce $1.2 billion in state cuts

Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus had asked state agencies to identify savings because of a looming budget gap through the next two-year fiscal period. Some put the shortfall as high as $18 billion.

The agencies had offered an estimated $1.7 billion in the current budget, based on targets set by the leaders. With Tuesday's exemptions, savings amount to $1.2 billion.

“Every penny we save now in the 2010-11 biennium is one penny closer to balancing the budget in the next legislative session,” Perry said in a statement.

Among cuts OK'd by the leaders is a drop in reimbursement rates for doctors and other health care providers who treat Medicaid patients, a move that doctors and advocates for lower-income Texans say would discourage providers from taking new Medicaid patients.

Some also have expressed concern because a cut in spending on human services programs means the loss of federal matching funds. The $205 million in overall cuts at health and human services agencies, including the reduced reimbursement rate, is estimated to cost another $190 million in federal matching funds.

Prison cuts pared

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will see a $55 million reduction, but that's much less than the $294.3 million it had reluctantly offered in order to meet its target.

Prison officials had asked for exemptions from cutting items such as correctional officer positions and treatment programs, saying slashing those areas could hurt prison security and make it more likely offenders would commit crimes when released.

The leaders granted the exemptions. Cuts approved include unspent balances; money that was allocated for a facility whose opening is delayed for other reasons; and an initiative to hold down travel and overtime.

Among other savings, Perry identified $21.5 million in general-revenue spending cuts in his office, including $20 million from the deal-closing Texas Enterprise Fund that he has touted as a valuable tool to lure business. Perry, who said he wanted to lead by example, continues to champion the fund as a valuable tool. Democratic challenger Bill White is calling for an audit of the fund.

Mental hospitals spared

Items spared from cuts, besides prison programs, included hospital beds at the San Antonio, North Texas, Rusk and Terrell state hospitals. Human services officials had estimated the option would mean an estimated 1,447 fewer patients receiving services through fiscal 2011.

Leaders also protected Texas Department of Public Safety funds aimed at homeland and border security; Texas Workforce Commission job training and job creation programs; and Higher Education Coordinating Board increases in student financial aid.

The Texas Education Agency had offered cuts including eliminating of $1 million in state funding to the University Interscholastic League for steroid testing . Testing has found few students using steroids, but Dewhurst has championed the program, and leaders kept intact $750,000 of the money.

“We cannot afford business as usual, but must make tough choices and put every cost savings idea on the table,” Straus said in a statement. He has told House budget-writers to close the budget gap without new taxes.

NYSE expects all U.S. stocks to have circuit breakers

NYSE Euronext Chief Executive Officer Duncan L Niederauer (R) talks to NYSE Euronext Chairman Jan-Michiel Hessels during a news conference at the U.S Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo site in Shanghai May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Aly Song

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - All U.S. stocks will probably be subject to so-called circuit breakers by the end of this year, Duncan Niederauer, chief executive officer of stock exchange operator NYSE Euronext, said on Thursday.

The circuit breakers, a mechanism to halt trading in a stock for five minutes if it falls more than 10 percent within five minutes, will initially apply to stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 index under a proposal by the Securities and Exchange Commission as regulators try to avoid a repeat of the mysterious May 6 market slide that quickly spiralled out of control.

"They need to be applied to all the markets, not just some of the markets," Niederauer said, suggesting the circuit breakers also apply to exchange-traded funds, something the SEC has said may happen later.

"Our expectation is that they will be more aligned with the underlying liquidity of the individual securities, probably by the end of the year, which will be coincidental with some other changes the SEC is contemplating for revaluating the market structure of the United States on a more comprehensive basis."

For example, some stocks need to fall 10 percent to trigger the circuit breaker mechanism while some others only need to fall 5 percent or 2 percent, he said.

Speaking in Shanghai, from where the New York Stock Exchange will be remotely opened on Thursday, Niederauer also said he expected China to allow foreign companies to list on its stock markets by the end of this year or early next year.

"A number of multinational companies listed on our exchange ... are expressing more and more interest in listing on the international board in Shanghai," Niederauer said.

NYSE Euronext's board has discussed a potential Shanghai listing on several occasions, and "we're still interested and very focused on this initiative," he said.

China plans to allow domestic listings of overseas firms as part of efforts to deregulate its capital markets.

Chief Operating Officer Larry Leibowitz told Reuters in March that NYSE Euronext hoped to be one of the first foreign companies to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, but the process has been slow.

NYSE Euronext, created in 2007 after the combination of NYSE Group and Euronext N.V., is the world's most liquid equities exchange group and home to some of the world's biggest companies.

($1=6.83 Yuan)

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, May 20 2010

Jovian factories and SUV’s caused the giant planet to lose a red ring, the activist group Climate Camp is tearing itself apart over a Bolivian blowout and a Canuck paper says that 75% of the global population will be dead in 19 months. All this and a hottie besides in your weekly round-up of all things warmy.

Part One: Al Gore & Friends

The Goreacle blogged about a new government program, ‘Cash for Caulkers‘:

“The Home Star bill, passed 246-161, would authorize $5.7 billion over two years for a program that supporters — mostly Democrats — said would have the added benefits of invigorating the slumping construction industry and making the earth a little cleaner.”

Yet another federal government program? Some states tried this idea, it didn’t go well in Texas at $78,000 per home.

Al Gore’s mortal enemy in the Senate, James Inhofe aka Kryptonite, suggested that the global warming prophet profiteer was like an ostrich with his head in the sand for denying the collapse of the global warming hoax. Video at the link.

Gore appeared at the University of Tennessee to give a commencement speech and receive an honorary degree. Protesters greeted Gore at the event but unfortunately for the poor students, Al was able to deliver the most depressing commencement speech ever:


Al sure does know how to suck all the air out of a room.

The eco-warrior is either a high-flying hypocrite who likes to fly, or he has the world’s fastest bicycle. Bi-coastal speeches in one day, talking up the evils of big oil and the joys of sustainability. Now we know where President Obama got the idea that burning jet fuel can save the planet.

Part Two: AGW Scaremongers

Michael ‘Stick’ Mann, the hockey stick inventor and fraud suspect, has a shady academic past:

If miracles happened for Mann, they came in the form of Barry Saltzman. You see, this struggling student’s career was transformed the moment Saltzman became his Ph.D adviser. Only after Saltzman applied his influence were Mann’s lofty credentials “rushed through.” Mann then turned himself into a makeshift tree ring counter, and overnight became the iconic figure in the IPCC Third Report (2001). The rest is history, as they say.”

The University is circling the wagons around Mann, to their shame.

The New Scientist published a screed on ‘denialists’, featuring such reasoned thinkers as DeSmogBlog’s Dick Littlemore. Once, articles from New Scientist were categorized under the ‘AGW News’ section, but not any more.

What happened to Jupiter’s missing ring? Global warming of course:

…Earlier this year, astronomers announced that the gas giant likely has helium rain showers from time to time. Jupiter has also tended to grow a variety of new storms, or spots, with some even changing color between white and red during dramatic climate changes on the gas giant.

Railway engineer and Jackie Collins wannabe writer Raj Pachauri defended the use of ‘grey literature’ in the IPCC AR4 report. Grey lit is the all the press releases and non-peer reviewed stuff that until recently Raj and crew tried to hide.

Oh noes, lizards will be wiped out by global warming. Add them to The List.

hot lizards, not bad after all

The ecotards that make up the membership of Climate Camp, the anti-progress, anti-air travel group of radical warmists are tearing themselves apart over the 12,000 mile trip made by members to attend a meeting in Bolivia on activism and protest. It’s green on green, sit back and enjoy.

Frantic German warmists are so desperate to prop up the global warming hoax that they declared skepticism ‘unscientific’:

In Schellnhuber’s world, scepticism is anti-science. And if you doubt their science, then you are anti-science. Oh, by the way, let’s not forget that reality and science for them are doctored up iStock polar bear photos and manipulated temperature curves.

The Huffington Post writes that global warming will take a pause, gather its energy and then kill everyone. No really, they said that.

Tracking Ursus Bogus.

Roger Ebert, a film critic famous for the not-at-all limited thumbs up/down rating, tweets venom against skeptic scientists.

Canada’s most honest journalist and climate realist Rex Murphy received some ire from a panel of warmist hippies for daring to ponder whether the planet might be cooling rather than warming.

An organic food munching hippie sees the light and is reformed.

The Kerry-Lieberman ‘American Power Act‘ has pitched green against green. See, it’s not all bad after all.

As BP tries to contain the Gulf oil spill and efforts to protect the coastline are underway, genius media giant Ted Turner knows what caused it, it was ‘a message from God’. Ted was once voluntarily married to Hanoi Jane, so judge his credibility with care.

Emotard Joe Romm takes a swipe at Pielke Junior, resorting to half-truths and personal attacks. Too bad he hits like a girl.

Here is the scare of the week month YEAR, and I’m proud to say it comes from Canada: 4.5 Billion people will die from global warming by 2012. I don’t know who John Stokes is, but he wrote the article and so I’m confident that he is, without doubt, an idiot. (h/t Soylent Green who has his own thoughts on the matter, and a poll.) Here’s an excerpt from the scariest article evah:

Runaway Global Warming promises to literally burn-up agricultural areas into dust worldwide by 2012, causing global famine, anarchy, diseases, and war on a global scale as military powers including the U.S., Russia, and China, fight for control of the Earth’s remaining resources.

Over 4.5 billion people could die from Global Warming related causes by 2012, as planet Earth accelerates into a greed-driven horrific catastrophe.

Look for a countdown to this Armageddon in the sidebar later today.

Oh noes, caterpillar outbreaks are caused by global warming.

Move over Yvo de Boer, a new UN climate chief is in town.

Grist wonders where the left went on the issue of global warming. Here’s a clue, Climategate.

Oh noes, guerrilla penguins are on the march.

The American Physical Society puts down the warmist scaremongering and backs away, slowly.

Duck mating and your power use, together at last.

Part Three: Inconvenient Truths

Bayonet contributor Sophia has posted Part Three of her excellent series, ‘The Biggest Heist in American History‘.

Pesky Canadian glaciers are refusing to melt at an alarming pace.

This week’s must read link goes to Dr. Roy Spencer and the $64-trillion question.

More on the disaster that is the Texas weatherization program.

Only three percent of Dutch people consider global warming an important enough topic to influence their vote.

Raj Pachauri defended use of grey literature, but did the IPCC really need to cite it 39 times? No wonder there are calls for his indictment.

Aussie warmist hippies have gone nuts over a statement by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering that suggests the science isn’t settled.

The annual skeptic-a-palooza went off this week and was duly smeared and ignored by hippies and the media (but I repeat myself). Highlight of the week was the declaration that ‘global warming is over‘. Yay, then.

The pesky medieval warming period raises its ugly face at Paradise Lake, and this time brings the Roman warming period along for good measure.

Say hello, wave goodbye. To wave energy production down under after a much vaunted system is destroyed. By waves.

Al Gore and fellow greens promised that Repowering America with green jobs would stop jobs going overseas to places like China. Which is news to bird shredder manufacturers GE and Vestas. As if that news isn’t bad enough for wind energy fans (geddit?), it turns out that efficiency isn’t necessarily a strength either.

Britain’s Met Office caused travel chaos for thousands of would-be travelers with yet another faulty volcanic ash cloud forecast. No wonder towns are dropping the Met like a hot rock.

Get your cap and trade approved transportation here before they’re gone.

Global warming will make weeds take over the world, or will they?

oh that's just triffid

Hippies, there are only three types of people left who believe in global warming, which type are you?

Warming, what warming? A new ice-age might begin in 2014. There’s more on a cooling trend here, the triple crown of cool, in fact.

The EPA gets more criticism for labeling CO2 a pollutant:

“There is a systemic bias in the computer models,” said Michaels, whose research suggests that the U.N.’s adjusted computer modeling data, rather than actual observed data, is what connects the rise in temperatures to manmade causes. When one takes away the computerized modeling enhancements, he said, mankind’s contribution to global warming is virtually nil, approximately .03 degrees, rather than .07 degrees, over the last 50 years.

Hey, warming is good for human shelf-life, who knew?

This doesn’t sound good, invade Canada to save the planet?

It’s the Sun, stupid.

Richard Lindzen lays it out plain and simple:

“As far as I can tell, skepticism involves doubts about a plausible proposition. I think current global warming alarm does not represent a plausible proposition.”

Part Four: AGW in the News

The New York Times interviewed serial failure Paul Ehrlich on his thoughts about global warming and population. Why?

Why Britain’s new Secretary of the Environment and Climate Change might be the most dangerous man in the country. His only challenger seems to be the new Prime Minister who is deep in the global warming cult.

Some inconvenient questions for warmists on the American Power Act, an example:

If carbon dioxide is causing “runaway global warming,” why have average global temperatures not risen since 1995, and why have they been COOLING for the past five years – even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have continued to rise to levels unprecedented in the modern era?

A warmist bemoans cold weather and why it’s spoiling his cozy world-view.

How to disagree without being disagreeable, skeptic Richard Lindzen and his warmist friend Kerry Emanuel. Money quote from the piece:

“If these two guys can’t agree on the basic conclusions of the social significance of [climate change science], how can we expect 6.5 billion people to?’’ said Roger Pielke Jr., a University of Colorado at Boulder professor who writes a climate blog.

Kerry and Lieberman may lose their senate careers over their ‘climate’ bill. Woohoo.

CBS news managed to find some skeptics, and put them on the air. No, really.

The Economist lists all the things wrong with climate science but concludes that you should trust and believe it anyway.

When politics meet science, everyone loses.

In Canada, conservatives are seen by the left as ‘knuckle-draggers’ and the press is happy to use the term to describe a government that won’t push the global warming hoax at next month’s G20 meeting.

Kallyvornya realizes that the state’s global warming law might not be good for the economy:

The California Jobs Initiative said Tuesday that the state’s “go-it-alone approach” would destroy as many as 1.1 million jobs. The coalition, which includes trade groups, politicians and advocacy groups, has a proposition planned for the November ballot that would delay implementation of the law until the state’s 12.6% unemployment rate declines.

The US government is holding hearings about political attacks on scientists, but only those that promote the warming hoax. Skeptics are fair game.

Sea levels are not rising, and the earth is cooling.

Aussie opposition leader Abbott is set to scrap millions of dollars of climate programs. Kevin Rudd is doomed.

The UK gets another barbecue summer forecast, is this one they can believe?

The collapse of the global warming hoax has warmists running scared, and some are trying to play the ‘uncertainty card’. Busted:

Following the age old management dictum, “when the plan fails change the objective,” climate science is trying to move the goal posts from a century out to just ten years from now. How bleak their prospects have become is demonstrated by the fact that the climate change community is excited by two new decadal models that not only don’t work but give opposite forecasts. The researchers themselves admit that climate may not be predictable—ever. Perhaps they hope that, if nothing else, the attempts at decadal prediction will provide ample uncertainty for Dr. El-Ashry to scare the public with.

Part Five: Global Hottie

As Law & Order goes off the air after a 20 year run, let’s feature one of the reasons the show was so successful. Welcome Angie Harmon back to the round-up.

Dow; S&P Break 200-day MA. ‘Flash’ Lows Were Real

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index are trading below their 200-day moving average. NASDAQ bucked the trend bouncing back above it 200-day MA.

Many analysts in the technical community were unsure if the ‘flash trade’ lows were actual prices which should be included in their analysis, or merely a ‘machine’ blip which can be ignored. As the days have progressed, however, it’s become increasingly clear that the flash trade lows registered in the major averages were indeed real prices and are close to being retested.

My opinion has been that the numbers were real and should be included. The charts of the Dow, S&P 500, and NASDAQ below show that even during those infamous 10 minutes of panic, buyers entered the market close to major support levels (the February lows).In all three examples, the February lows held.

After the initial reactionary bounce back, all three major averages resumed their downward trend and appear headed for a test of the ‘flash trade’ lows. Support for the major averages lies between the February and ‘flash trade’ lows.

The chart of the DJIA below includes the RSI indicator which works well to gauge overbought/oversold conditions. The market has moved up each time it reached oversold levels and we are close to another such reading which would likely correspond with DJIA prices somewhere in the range of the above mentioned support zone.

Craig Venter creates synthetic life form

Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world's first synthetic life form

Genetic entrepreneur Craig Venter explains how his team of researchers created a new life form – and what happens next. Video: Science Link to this video

Scientists have created the world's first synthetic life form in a landmark experiment that paves the way for designer organisms that are built rather than evolved.

The controversial feat, which has occupied 20 scientists for more than 10 years at an estimated cost of $40m, was described by one researcher as "a defining moment in biology".

Craig Venter, the pioneering US geneticist behind the experiment, said the achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life is made to benefit humanity, starting with bacteria that churn out biofuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and even manufacture vaccines.

However critics, including some religious groups, condemned the work, with one organisation warning that artificial organisms could escape into the wild and cause environmental havoc or be turned into biological weapons. Others said Venter was playing God.

The new organism is based on an existing bacterium that causes mastitis in goats, but at its core is an entirely synthetic genome that was constructed from chemicals in the laboratory.

The single-celled organism has four "watermarks" written into its DNA to identify it as synthetic and help trace its descendants back to their creator, should they go astray.

"We were ecstatic when the cells booted up with all the watermarks in place," Dr Venter told the Guardian. "It's a living species now, part of our planet's inventory of life."

Dr Venter's team developed a new code based on the four letters of the genetic code, G, T, C and A, that allowed them to draw on the whole alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks to write the watermarks. Anyone who cracks the code is invited to email an address written into the DNA.

The research is reported online today in the journal Science.

"This is an important step both scientifically and philosophically," Dr Venter told the journal. "It has certainly changed my views of definitions of life and how life works."

The team now plans to use the synthetic organism to work out the minimum number of genes needed for life to exist. From this, new microorganisms could be made by bolting on additional genes to produce useful chemicals, break down pollutants, or produce proteins for use in vaccines.

Julian Savulescu, professor of practical ethics at Oxford University, said: "Venter is creaking open the most profound door in humanity's history, potentially peeking into its destiny. He is not merely copying life artificially ... or modifying it radically by genetic engineering. He is going towards the role of a god: creating artificial life that could never have existed naturally."

This is "a defining moment in the history of biology and biotechnology", Mark Bedau, a philosopher at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, told Science.

Dr Venter became a controversial figure in the 1990s when he pitted his former company, Celera Genomics, against the publicly funded effort to sequence the human genome, the Human Genome Project. Venter had already applied for patents on more than 300 genes, raising concerns that the company might claim intellectual rights to the building blocks of life.