Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Welcome to the Age of Permanent Bailouts for the Giant Banks

NY Fed president William Dudley said today, when asked when the Fed would stop quantitative easing:

This exit could be several years away.

Too bad that quantitative easing won't help Main Street or the average American. It will only help big banks, giant corporations, and big investors. See this and this.

Remember, the government has also left open the possibility of permanent bailouts for the big banks. See this, this, this, this and this.

As Ron Paul wrote in October 2009:

The Fed, by backing up fractional-reserve banking with a promise of endless bailouts and money creation, attempts to keep the illusion going.

And see this.

Welcome to the age of permanent bailouts for the giant banks.

Max Keiser: Irish govt slaves to IMF terror machine!

Click this link ......

'US media gave BP easy ride for $20 billion check'

Click this link .....

« Secretary Of Predation Geithner, Bank Of America, And The Law Of The Foreclosure Jungle »

Submitted by a hedge fund manager who wishes to remain anonymous.


Bank of America Discovers Some Trivial Technical Problems With a Small Number of Mortgages

Bank of America announced that it has discovered a few trivial, easily-remedied technical problems with some of its mortgages. “We will stop foreclosure sales in some states until our assessment has been satisfactorily completed, or until the politicians whom we have compensated so generously do their damn jobs and get rid of those pesky laws and rights that are slowing us down. Our ongoing assessment shows the basis for foreclosure decisions is accurate, except in those few regrettable cases where we repossessed a house that actually had no mortgage on it whatsoever—hey, nobody’s perfect, ha ha,” a Bank of America spokescreature said. “It’s really quite a lot of trouble to verify the address before we take someone’s house,” the spokescreature continued. “Comparing addresses on two documents slows us up by a good fifteen seconds. After all, we have a lot of houses to foreclose on. Anyway, many of those people actually do owe money to us, or to somebody, anyway. I know it is a bit confusing to citizens when our competitor HSBC and another bank simultaneously try to foreclose on the same property, especially when they are in a federal foreclosure prevention program. It’s sort of like one of those programs on Animal Planet where each hyena grabs a leg of the still twitching gazelle and tries to pull it away from the other hyenas. But that’s the way nature works—nobody asks those hyenas petty-minded questions about whether title to the gazelle was properly transferred, and to which hyena, and whether the title was properly notarized by an authorized local cheetah. Sometimes a company just has to sink its fangs into a customer, lock its jaws, which can exert a pressure of 1,000 pounds per square inch, brace its legs, yank, and see what tears loose. If we get the wrong gazelle, we will make every effort to compensate it for our erroneous gnawing, bone-crushing, and marrow-sucking.”

“It appears that some of our process servers may not have actually served the owners with notice of our intent to foreclose. But, honestly, wouldn’t warning them make it a whole lot harder to catch them? It is a myth that hyenas giggle and cackle before they attack. Actually, they are usually quite silent until they get close enough to bite. On the Serengeti, due process means that the gazelle runs as fast as it can and the pack keeps ripping small chunks off until the gazelle collapses due to shock and blood loss and inability to pay for a lawyer. There may have been some trivial, unimportant problems with the relevant documents, but we are confident that many of those gazelles really did owe us money, and we believe that our ripping them into pieces, digesting them, and regurgitating their horns and hooves is ecologically sound and generally in accord with the law of nature. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will have to go mark the boundaries of my pack’s territory with the musk from my anal scent gland. We don’t want other hyena packs like J.P. Morgan invading our turf. That could be a real mess—those guys know how to sink their fangs in, and they know how to break down the door of a house and change the locks even when they haven’t foreclosed on the property.”

Asked for comment, a J.P. Morgan spokesperson said, “We have no interest in invading the grasslands turf of Bank of America or HSBC because we are not hyenas. We are amphibious apex predators, and our preferred mode of foreclosure is to lurk underwater by the bank of a river. When a gazelle or a wildebeest sticks its muzzle in the water, we surge upward and, um, serve papers on it, or something. Or grab a leg and go into our famous death roll, spinning and thrashing until the leg comes off. Then we like to take the borrower’s corpse up-river for a few days of what we in the mortgage business call ‘seasoning’. We would also like to remind you puny, pathetic citizens that we can grow to twenty-three feet long, we can gallop at up to seventeen miles per hour for short distances, we have maintained our distinctive business culture successfully since before dinosaurs evolved, we have thick dorsal osteoderms which are hard to penetrate even with an axe, and we are much more biologically complex than other reptiles: unlike them, we have features like a cerebral cortex and a four-chambered heart, and many of us have Ivy League degrees. We recommend that AMBAC and Pimco think carefully about all of these features before trying to push their mortgage-backed securities back onto our balance sheet. As for any legislators or prosecutors who might be thinking about going after us, we have very slow metabolisms. We can submerge for an hour and go for months without eating. We will outwait you and probably eventually hire you as a lobbyist. We would also like to note, though, that we are not without compassion. We honor our prey and weep for it: do you see the large tears rolling out of our eyes and down our scaly cheeks? You probably thought crocodile tears were a mere myth or proverb, but we do in fact have lachrymal glands that secrete a proteinaceous fluid. Crying has an important place in our corporate culture: it lubricates our eyes and cleans our nictitating membranes.”

The Senate and the House, with remarkable foresight, passed HR 3808, a bill to facilitate the sharing of taxpayer carcasses across state lines. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Robert Aderholt, an Alabama Republican, said, “It is important to ensure that multiple species of predators can efficiently divide a taxpayer carcass and transport pieces of it from one waterhole to another.” The banking industry suffered a temporary setback when President Obama was forced to veto HR 3808. David Axelrod, an advisor to President Obama, said, “Many gazelles and springboks still seem to be agitated about this issue. But we can ignore them—they are, after all, mere herbivores, and their lobbying efforts lack teeth. We have complete confidence in our ability to find some swift, quiet resolution of this problem now that the election is over.” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller concurred, saying, “We’d like to resolve this as soon as possible. No predator needs to be seriously inconvenienced, but all fifty attorneys general are united in their determination to see that state governments get their fair share of the taxpayer carrion. Our model is the tobacco settlements, where the tobacco companies got to keep trying to addict precocious adolescents and we got the money we needed to raise the salaries of state employees. Our other model is the marabou stork, a scavenger which mainly eats after the big predators have finished and is happy to eat feces as well as carrion and fish eggs, and which has a naked head and neck to ensure that its feathers don’t become clotted with blood.” Secretary of Predation Timothy Geithner added, “I think we can all agree that our nation’s highest priority is to ensure a steady and increasing flow of protein to our apex predators. Crocodiles and hyenas are actually very delicate creatures, and any regulatory interference with their feeding habits could have a catastrophic effect on the entire ecosystem.” Despite their superficial differences, both parties fervently agree on the crucial importance of making life easier for apex predators.


Sometimes in nature, the predator loses...

Video: The gazelle outsmarts the hyena and the cheetah

Watch the final 45 seconds...


Gator bait from Gomp...

Nice story above, just one problem with old gators, sometimes they find themselves on the menu...They are simple to prepare.

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse pepper
cajun spice to taste
1 pound gator meat
Vegetable oil, for frying

Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl with hands. Rinse gator and drain water. Dip in flour mixture. Shake off excess flour. Heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil in a deep frying pan to 350 degrees F. Drop the floured gator in pan and fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Ribs ain't bad either...

Furious protesters march on FitzPatrick's home

ANGRY protesters gathered at the home of disgraced former banker Sean FitzPatrick to demand he be thrown in jail.

However, gardai almost outnumbered protesters after a rumoured 400 marchers failed to show up.

Instead, around 30 protesters marched on the home of the former Anglo Irish Bank chief, close to Greystones Golf Club.

A source close to the FitzPatricks confirmed they were abroad, believed to be in a property owned by the family.

"He is rarely in the house now," the source said. "Sean still thinks he has done nothing wrong."

The protest, organised by the Right to Work campaign, began on the main street in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Outside the gates of FitzPatrick's home, James O'Toole, chairman of the campaign, said the protest was not just about the now-bankrupt banker, but about the upper classes who had escaped financial pain.

"Sean FitzPatrick is just indicative of the whole rich classes in the country who haven't been touched," he said.

Mr O'Toole called on authorities to jail the banker.

"I don't really have a message for Sean FitzPatrick, but I do have a message to the people in power -- we need to put Sean FitzPatrick in jail," he said.

FitzPatrick hit the headlines last week after it was revealed that a number of top former bankers at Anglo had not released passwords to investigators seeking access to encrypted files.

It is understood FitzPatrick has been contacted to see if he has knowledge of old passwords.

- Stephen Dunne

Final Fantasy Spirits Within 1/10

Click this link ......

China Scorns US Funny-Money

One day, the emperor of ancient Babylon summoned his treasury overseer and exclaimed, "I need more money to wage war on those filthy Hittite terrorists!

"But I looked in my great treasure chest and it’s nearly empty. There are hardly any gold coins left," he thundered.

"Oh Light of the Euphrates," groveled his terrified minister, "we are out of gold. Your wars have become too expensive."

"But I have a solution, your celestial greatness. We will quietly trim the amount of gold in our imperial gold coins to make them go further. No one will notice."

Fast forward to Washington, 2010. It’s no longer called "clipping coins." Today, the name for debauching a nation’s currency is called "quantitative easing(QE)," but it’s still the same old fraud committed by financial flim-flam men.

Washington is flooding financial markets with $600 billion of worthless dollars, hoping a rising tide of Monopoly money will somehow lift America out of recession. The Fed’s first QE effort was a fizzle. Welcome to QE2. In high finance, hope springs eternal.

The US government is stoking worldwide inflation in order to lower its outstanding debt by repaying creditors with depreciated dollars. The rest of the world is boiling angry at Washington.

Just before last week’s G20 economic summit in South Korea, China’s state credit agency publicly downgraded America’s credit rating and questioned US leadership of the world’s economy.

In an unprecedented, stinging rebuke, China scolded Washington for "deteriorating debt repayment capability," and predicted quantitative easing would lead to "fundamentally lowering the national solvency."

This was a real slap in the face heard around the globe – particularly coming from a bunch of commies! China is the largest holder of US government debt.

I remember the day when my father, a New York financier, used to sneer at iffy stock or bond issues as, "Chinese paper." Now, it’s "American paper." How the world has turned.

Washington has been blasting China for manipulating its currency to keep the value low – which is quite true. Embarrassingly, Germany and Brazil just accused the US of being as big a currency manipulator as China – which is also quite true. The EU refused to join the US in alone blaming China for world financial and currency instability.

A depreciated dollar boosts US exports and hurts nations exporting to the US. Economists call it, "beggar thy neighbor," a destructive trade practice that played a key role in the 1930’s world depression.

This money flood is eroding the value of the dollar, the world’s premier medium of exchange. In the past two months, the US dollar has dropped 6% against other major currencies. Frightened investors are piling into gold, now up 17% in 60 days.

The Obama administration, just "shellacked" by voters in mid-term elections, and desperate to lower unemployment, is gambling more debt shock therapy will spark the economy back to life. But massive, unsustainable debt caused the US financial meltdown in 2008.

The US public debt has hit a stratospheric $14 trillion. You don’t treat a poisoning victim with more poison. Spending one’s way to prosperity with borrowed money is a dangerous chimera.

But panicky politicians are ready to try any sort of economic snake oil remedy to save their skins. Before 2007, America was living high on phony financial froth. Finance had become America’s leading business. Those days are over but no one dares to tell the voters.

Besides destabilizing world exchange rates and trade, Washington’s money flood is pouring into emerging markets as American investors seek higher returns than the miserable pittance available at home, creating highly volatile capital flows.

The so-called financial rescue package brought in by Presidents Bush and Obama have been a bonanza for Wall Street and the banks, and a catastrophe for savers and ordinary citizens.

During the 1980’s, we saw fragile Asian economies battered as investment from the US flooded in, then out. This is happening again, boosting currencies of many nations, making their exports uncompetitive. Investments barriers are going up from China to Brazil.

President Barack Obama inherited a horrible mess from the Bush administration. However, his wrongheaded economic response is undermining the world’s economic order. A nation’s currency is more a symbol of its strength and good name than its flag. Running down the US dollar, which ruled world finance since 1945, could mark the beginning of the end of the American era.

That’s what the American delegation to the G20 economic summit in Seoul, South Korea and Yokohama, Japan, heard last weekend. Obama’s economic policies, notably his attempts to stimulate the US economic with the steroids of more deficit spending, were roundly rejected and criticized by other G20 members. No decisions were reached on exchange rates.

However, there was an uncommon flash of common sense in Washington last week. A special bipartisan presidential panel on reducing the national deficit proposed $4 trillion in federal spending cuts.

All political sacred cows were targeted. The biggest: the monstrous $700 billion military budget. A third of US worldwide military bases would close. There would be cuts to social security, mortgage deductions, delays in retirement age, an end to politician’s local pet projects. Taxes would rise.

The howling has already begun. Unfortunately, such unpopular, drastic spending cuts seem highly unlikely, particularly in the new US Congress where Republicans and Democrats will be deadlocked. America would need an economic dictator to implement the panel’s full plan.

China has one – the Communist Party. America does not and is rudderless. More empires have been undone by financial collapse than invasion or battlefield defeats. The once mighty United States is staggering in this direction.

It Is Time to Pull the Rug Out From Under JPM, BAC, C, and all Banksters. Foreclosuregate!

It is time that notaries who are notarizing fraudulent documents that allow foreclosures to proceed, be prosecuted. It is time to resolve these banks and kick these banksters out and not allow them to ever do banking in the US again.

Now I know why people want to allow all homeowners to refinance. It is because they know that the banksters have documents that are faulty or may not even have the mortgage iou note at all, and that these document issues grind the foreclosure process to a halt.

From Ellen Brown's article linked below:

"Denninger explains that mortgages are pooled into REMIC Trusts as a tax avoidance measure, and that to qualify, the properties must be properly conveyed to the trustee of the REMIC in the year the MBS is set up, with all the paperwork necessary to show a complete chain of title. For some reason, however, that was not done; and there is no legitimate way to create those conveyances now, because the time limit allowed under the Tax Code has passed."

So, why would banksters not want to convey the loans to the trustees of the MBS securities? Ellen Brown shows the astonishing reason. The banksters didn't want investors to find out about the crap loans they were ploughing into the MBS's. Rico anyone? From her article, link below:

"The question is, why weren’t they done properly in the first place? Was it just haste and sloppiness as alleged? Or was there some reason that these mortgages could NOT be assigned when the MBS were formed?

Denninger argues that it would not have been difficult to do it right from the beginning. His theory is that documents were “lost” to avoid an audit, which would have revealed to investors that they had been sold a bill of goods -- a package of toxic subprime loans very prone to default."

So then, we have fake MBS securities here, and any purchasers of these should be able to sue and recover from the investment banksters. So, there should be Rico criminal prosecutions as well.

This new plan on Fox Business News, of wanting all homeowners to be able to refinance, and for banks to gain government bailouts yet again, is all about saving the banks. It is time that we not allow these shenanigans, but rather pull out the Rico Laws and go after these patterns of fraud. The notaries being prosecuted should end up with Dimon and these other CEO's being prosecuted and if found guilty, the key being thrown away at lockup. It is time for Rico Laws to apply to these banks. The MBS securities were bogus.

And Tea Party, do you still believe the subprime madness was the fault of the borrowers instead of the lenders, or the investment banksters? Give me a break!

Mr Obama, it is time for JUSTICE!

Jeremy Grantham: "The Fed Has Spent Most of the Last 15, 20 Years Manipulating the Stock Market"

Legendary investor Jeremy Grantham - Chief Investment Strategist of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo- told CNBC last week:

What I worry about most is the Fed's activity and — QE2 is just the latest demonstration of this. The Fed has spent most of the last 15, 20 years— manipulating the stock market whenever they feel the economy needs a bit of a kick. I think they know very well that what they do has no direct effect on the economy. The only weapon they have is the so-called wealth effect. If you can drive the market up 50 percent, people feel richer.


This is what the Fed wants by the way.

It wants us to go out there and buy stocks, which are overpriced because bonds they have manipulated into being even less attractive. So, we’re being forced to choose between two overpriced assets.


And what the Fed is trying to do is to make cash so ugly that it will force you to take it out and basically speculate. And in that, it's very successful, of course, with the hedge funds. They're out there speculating. Finally, the ordinary individuals are beginning to get so fed up with having no return on their cash that they're beginning to do a little bit more purchasing of equities. And that's what the Fed wants.

It wants to have the stocks go up, to make you feel a bit richer so that you'll spend a little more and give a short-term kick to the economy. But, it— it's a pretty circular argument. For every dollar of wealth effect you get here, as stocks go from overpriced to worse, you will give back in a year or two. And you'll give it back like it— like it happened in— in '08 at the very worse time.

All of the kicker that Greenspan had engineered for the '02, '03, '04 recovery and so on was all given back with interest. The market overcorrected through fair value. The housing market that was a huge driver of economic strength and a— actually masked structural unemployment with all those extra, unnecessary houses being built. All of that was given back similarly at the same time. It couldn't have been worse.
Grantham also slams the Fed for blowing bubbles and for encouraging moral hazard:
[Question:] So, what should the federal government be doing then? I mean, the housing industry, for example, missing in action. What is it going to take to get housing moving again? What is it gonna take to get businesses hiring again? If it's not the job of the Federal Reserve, what policy should we be seeing coming out of the government?

[Grantham:] I think the Federal Reserve has— is in a very strong position to move against bubbles. Bubbles are the most dangerous thing— asset-class bubbles that come along. They're the most dangerous to investors. They're also the most dangerous to the economies of— as we have seen in Japan and in 1929 and now here. You've got to stop them.

The Fed has enormous power to move markets. And it— not necessarily immediately, but give them a year and they could bury a bull market. They could have headed off the great tech bubble. They could have headed off the housing bubble. They have other responsibilities— powers. They— they could have interfered with the quantity and quality of the sub-prime event. They chose not to.

In fact, Greenspan led the charge to deregulate this, deregulate that, deregulate everything, which was most— ill advised, and for which we have paid an enormous price. So, they can— they can stop bubbles, and— and they should. It's easy. It's a huge service. What you do now is— is— I like to say it's a bit like the Irish problem.

I wouldn't start the journey from here if I were you when you ask— the way. You— you really shouldn't allow the— situation to get into this shape. You should not have allowed the bubbles to form and to break. Digging out from a great bubble that has broken is so much harder than preventing it in the first place.


And unless we're lucky, we will have yet another crisis without being able to lower the rates 'cause they'll still be low, without being able to issue too much moral hazard promises from the Fed because people will begin to find it pretty hollow. Cycle after cycle, the Fed is making basically— is flagging the same intention. Don't worry, guys. Speculate. We'll help you if something goes wrong. And each time something does go wrong and it gets more and more painful.
Finally, Grantham slams low interest rates and quantitative easing:
Let me point out that the Fed's actions are taking money away from retirees.

They're the guys, and near retirees, who want to part their money on something safe as they near retirement. And they're offered minus after-inflation adjustment. There's no return at all. And where does that money go? It goes to relate the banks so that they're well capitalized again. Even though they were the people who exacerbated our problems.


I— I think, therefore, under these conditions, low rates is actually hurting the economy. It's taking more money away from people who would have spent it —retirees — than are being spent by passing it on to financial enterprises and being distributed as bonuses to people who are rich and, therefore, save more.

So, I think it's a— a— bad idea at any time and a particularly bad idea now.

Here's the interview:

Redeeming Role for a Common Virus: Ability to Kill Cancer

ScienceDaily (Nov. 14, 2010) — A common virus that can cause coughing and mild diarrhea appears to have a major redemptive quality: the ability to kill cancer. Harnessing that power, researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center, are conducting a clinical trial to see if the virus can target and kill certain tumor types.

By the age of five, most people have been exposed to the virus, called reovirus. For some, it can trigger brief episodes of coughing or diarrhea while many other don't develop any symptoms. The body simply overpowers the virus. But what scientists have discovered is that the virus grows like gangbusters inside tumor cells with a specific malfunction that leads to tumor growth. That finding led researchers to ask: Is it possible to use the virus as a treatment?

At Lombardi, researchers are collaborating with other institutions to look for an answer by conducting a phase II clinical trial for people with advanced or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer with a specific tumor profile.

"With reovirus, we're able to accentuate the positive and attenuate the negative," says the study's lead investigator at Lombardi, Deepa Subramaniam, MD, interim-chief of the Thoracic Medical Oncology Program. In other words, researchers have genetically altered the virus so that it won't replicate in a healthy cell (attenuated), which is what makes a person sick. "What's left is a virus in search of a host, and reovirus loves the environment inside a specific kind of cancer cell," explains Subramaniam.

That specific kind of cancer cell is one with malfunctioning machinery called KRAS or EGFR mutation.

"These mutations leave the cancer vulnerable to a viral take-over. Once it's in, the reovirus exploits the cell's machinery to drive its own replication. As a result, the cell is filled with virus particles causing it to literally explode."

Volunteers in the clinical trial will receive reovirus (REOLYSIN®) in addition to paclitaxel and carboplatin. The physicians will watch to see if the cancer shrinks while also seeing if this combination of drugs causes serious side effects.

"This is a subset of cancer where we haven't had many successes in terms of finding drugs that extend life after diagnosis," says Subramaniam. "This trial represents an attempt to seek and destroy cancer by choosing a treatment based on specific tumor characteristics. Preliminary data from the study should come quickly."

Researchers are also studying the effect of reovirus in other cancer types.

Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Foreclosure company finds itself in default

TAMPA - In a regulatory filing many homeowners may find ironic, a mortgage business run by a Florida lawyer whose "foreclosure mill" is under state investigation says it may close if unable to resolve a default with its lender. DJSP Enterprises Inc. handles the non-legal work for the Plantation law offices of David J. Stern. On Monday, the company said it has not paid its November rent and that its DAL Group LLC unit defaulted on a $15 million line of credit to Bank of America.

The subsidiary entered into a forbearance agreement last week with the lender to give it until the end of the month to develop a business plan and show that it can repay the money.

However, the company seemed glum on the future. There "can be no assurance," the company said it the filing, that it will be able to obtain additional forbearance agreements with creditors. "If it is unable to accomplish any of the foregoing, it will not be able to continue its business operations," the filing said. The news comes the same day Wells Fargo announced it has cut ties with Stern's law firm. Mortgage financing companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac severed ties recently with the firm and removed files from its offices, resulting in the loss of 90 percent of its business. The law firm laid off 90 percent of its staff.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is investigating Stern's firm and three other large firms for submitting false or misleading statements in foreclosure proceedings.

Reporter Shannon Behnken can be reached at (813) 259-7804 or . Follow her on Twitter @TBORealtyCheck.

Insurer reports wider annual deficit

The federal agency that insures the pensions of one in seven Americans said Monday that its annual deficit increased 4.5 percent to $23 billion.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. also said it paid $5.6 billion in benefits to participants in company pension plans that failed in fiscal 2010, ended Sept. 30. It noted that 147 pension plans failed, up from 144 a year earlier.

The PBGC's finances have been battered in recent years by the weak economy, which has brought more corporate bankruptcies and resulting failures of pension plans. The agency assumes the pension liabilities of some companies in bankruptcy.

The PBGC said its total obligations increased by $11.5 billion to $102.5 billion. On the other hand, the agency has $79.5 billion in assets to pay those obligations.

The situation was helped this year by having 38 companies emerge from bankruptcy proceedings with their pension plans intact. That saved about $4 billion in obligations that otherwise would have had to be paid, the agency said, and preserved benefits for about 250,000 employees and retirees.

- Associated Press


Lowe's profit rises on improved cost controls

Lowe's said Monday that shoppers are spending on smaller painting and gardening projects but still avoiding major renovations because of worries about the economy.

That caution weighed on the home-improvement chain's third-quarter revenue, which rose 2 percent to $11.59 billion, missing analysts' forecasts. Revenue at stores open at least one year edged up just 0.2 percent during the quarter.

But Lowe's said that reining in inventory and controlling costs helped its third-quarter profit rise 19 percent, to $404 million from $344 million a year earlier.

- Associated Press

More US households short of food

Almost 15% of US households experienced a food shortage at some point in 2009, a government report has found.

US authorities say that figure is the highest they have seen since they began collecting data in the 1990s, and a slight increase over 2008 levels.

Single mothers are among the hardest hit: About 3.5 million said they were at times unable to put sufficient food on the table.

Hispanics and African Americans also suffer disproportionately.

The food security report is the result of an annual survey conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Households deemed "food insecure" experienced a period of inadequate food supply as a result of their economic situation, but did not necessarily remain without sufficient food for the entire year.

Although the number of food insecure households has risen sharply since the recession, the USDA says the growth rate has slowed, particularly toward the end of 2009.

The BBC's Katie Connolly, in Washington, says the results will be seen as somewhat surprising in a developed country that is also facing the problem of rising obesity rates.

Shielding children

Almost 60% of those experiencing food shortages were eligible for assistance to purchase food through a government food stamps program.

food security graph

Since the recession, the Obama administration has expanded food stamp funding. In 2009, around 34 million Americans participated in food stamp programs each month.

Among those categorized as having "very low food security" - that is, those who experience the most severe food shortages - 28% of adults said that there were times in 2009 when they did not eat for an entire day because they could not afford to buy food.

Ninety-seven percent reported either skipping a meal or cutting the size of their meal for the same reason.

The report says that children in low food security households are often shielded from such behaviour by adults.

Recession-proof poverty

The prevalence of food insecurity has placed increased pressure on soup kitchens and community organizations to provide for the poor.

But Jeannine Sanford, the Deputy Director for Washington DC food pantry Bread For The City, warned against assuming that the problem of hunger would be alleviated when the recession ends because there are some groups whose conditions are virtually unaffected by the bad economy.

Start Quote

The nature of receiving disability (welfare) is that the person is permanently disabled. It's not like the economy changes and that changes for them. They're still going to be trying to struggle on a really limited amount of income.”

End Quote Jeannine Sanford Deputy Director, Bread for the City

With its plethora of government jobs, Washington DC has not been as badly hit by the recession as other cities. Still, its soup kitchens and community organizations are struggling to keep up with demand - as they have been for some time.

Washington has long had a relatively large population of underprivileged people in need of assistance.

Ms Sanford says that the number of hungry people seeking help obtaining food has not changed much during the recession. Most of the people who come to her organization are the elderly, the disabled or those in minimum wage jobs who live well below the poverty line.

These people tend to live on fixed incomes, and have little hope of their income improving when the economy rebounds.

There were poor people in DC before the recession, and they will still be poor and need help when it is over, she says.

"The nature of receiving disability (welfare) is that the person is permanently disabled," Ms Sanford told the BBC. "It's not like the economy changes and that changes for them. They're still going to be trying to struggle on a really limited amount of income."

Dow Jones Industrial Average

Data as of Nov 16
-178.47 / -1.59%
Today’s Change
Today|||52-Week Range

Quote Details

Previous close11,201.97
Day high11,194.70
Day low10,978.93
Today's volume254,565,448
Average daily volume (3 months)185,769,865
Average P/E15.5
1 year change+5.92%
Data as of 4:30pm ET, 11/16/2010

Companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average

PriceChange% ChangeP/EVolumeYTD
MMM 3M Co83.72-1.96-2.27%14.85.7M+1.26%
AA Alcoa Incorporated13.03-0.37-2.76%NM1.2K-19.17%
AXP American Express Co41.93-0.77-1.80%13.711.4M+3.48%
T AT&T Inc28.24-0.39-1.36%7.725.6M+0.75%
BAC Bank of America Corp11.94-0.16-1.32%NM4.0K-20.72%
CAT Caterpillar Inc80.37-1.45-1.77%32.812.5M+41.02%
CVX Chevron Corp82.48-2.38-2.80%9.912.4M+7.13%
CSCO Cisco Systems Inc19.43-0.52-2.58%14.65.4K-18.82%
DD E I Du Pont De Nemours And Com...45.68-0.63-1.36%13.59.2M+35.67%
XOM Exxon Mobil Corp68.94-1.54-2.19%12.227.6M+1.10%
GE General Electric Co15.86-0.34-2.10%14.774.1M+4.82%
HPQ Hewlett Packard Co41.80-0.74-1.74%11.622.4M-18.85%
HD Home Depot Inc31.71+0.32+1.02%18.225.6M+9.61%
INTC Intel Corporation21.07-0.225-1.06%11.3500.00+3.28%
IBM International Business Machine...142.24-1.40-0.97%12.96.4M+8.66%
Data as of 11/16/2010
Page of 2

Global Fears Smother Wall Street

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

A wave of selling that began in Asia slammed into Wall Street on Tuesday, erasing almost 180 points from the Dow amid heightened fears about Europe's debt mess and China's economy overheating.

Today’s Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 178.47 points, or 1.59%, to 11023.50, the Standard & Poor's 500 dropped 19.41 points, 1.62%, to 1178.34 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 43.98 points, or 1.75%, to 2469.84. The FOX slid 13.20 points, or 1.53%, to 848.03.

With the S&P 500 sinking for the fourth day in a row and the Dow down more than 330 points in less than a week, Wall Street clearly finds itself in a slump. In fact, Tuesday marked Wall Street's steepest decline since August 11 and the 12th largest selloff of the year.

After soaring to two-year highs amid enthusiasm for the Federal Reserve's stimulus plans and the GOP's midterm election victor, some fear has returned to the markets. In the face of some signs of hope in the U.S. economy, Wall Street has been rocked by signs China may need to hike interest rates to prevent a spike in inflation and Ireland and other deb-ridden European countries may need a bailout.

“We got to the top end of the [trading] range and now we’re going to give some back. It’s never a lot of fun. It’s actually pretty painful,” Ted Weisberg, a veteran NYSE trader at Seaport Securities, told FOX Business.

Underscoring the worry on Wall Street, the VIX, or the markets' "fear gauge," soared 14% to five-week highs.

The Dow briefly slipped below the 11000 level but managed to end above that psychologically-important level. Still, nearly all 30 Dow stocks lost ground, led by Alcoa (AA: 13.04 ,0.00 ,0.00%), Travelers (TRV: 54.67 ,0.00 ,0.00%) and Cisco Systems (CSCO: 19.48 ,0.00 ,0.00%). The index's only advancers were Home Depot (HD: 31.77 ,0.00 ,0.00%) and Wal-Mart (WMT: 54.13 ,0.00 ,0.00%).

The Nasdaq Composite slid nearly 2% as tech stocks like China's (BIDU: 103.52 ,0.00 ,0.00%) and Oracle (ORCL: 27.58 ,0.00 ,0.00%) lost ground.

Some market watchers predicted the storm will die down, especially because the U.S. does not rely on smaller European nations like Ireland and Greece as major trading partners.

“The good news is this is not a domestic issue. We’re not at the moment living in fear of seeing some type of domestic slowdown,” said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. “Right now this is a distraction and I think it’s a buying opportunity.”

U.S. markets hit session lows after The Wall Street Journal reported European officials are weighing an 80 billion to 100 billion euro rescue for Ireland, which is the latest epicenter of the sovereign debt crisis. Euro-zone members reportedly want the U.K. and IMF to have a role in the rescue and are weighing a smaller bailout for the Irish banking sector.

The report put additional selling pressure on the euro, which dropped 0.67% to $1.3492. At the same time, Austria threatened to withhold its $258 million portion of the Greek bailout due to concerns Greece won’t meet its goals. The markets remain jittery about the developments in Europe and the implications for the euro, which tends to move along with the U.S. dollar.

“I’m very worried about it. It’s not going away any time soon. And it’s not just Ireland. This is still an interest in the PIGS,” said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Capital Group, alluding to the acronym for debt-ridden Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

China Spooks Markets

Wall Street's global headache began overseas on Tuesday as the Shanghai Composite tumbled 3.98% -- its second steep selloff in a week -- after the Chinese government announced new limits on foreign investment in its exploding commercial property market. That move led to further speculation that China may need to raise interest rates to combat inflation.

Global markets remain very sensitive to signs China may face slower growth because it would likely lead to a reduction in the Asian giant's huge appetite for commodities. With that in mind, commodity-related stocks like Rio Tinto (RIO: 66.30 ,0.00 ,0.00%) tumbled.

Economically-sensitive copper suffered its steepest selloff since late June, plunging 5.07% a pound to $3.7240. Crude oil slid $2.52 a barrel, or 2.97%, to $82.34. Gold dropped $30.10 a troy ounce, or 2.2%, to $1,338.30.

Wall Street had a more muted response to domestic news. Retailers reported mostly positive results, with Wal-Mart (WMT: 54.13 ,0.00 ,0.00%) and Home Depot (HD: 31.77 ,0.00 ,0.00%) either beating or meeting expectations and raising their outlooks for the rest of the year. Smaller retailers like Saks (SKS: 11.17 ,0.00 ,0.00%) and Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS: 33.51 ,0.00 ,0.00%) rallied around their results.

On the economic front, the Labor Department said its producer price index rose 0.4% in October, missing expectations for a larger rise. Excluding food and energy, prices were down 0.6% -- the biggest drop in more than four years. Economists had forecasted a rise of 0.1% for core wholesale inflation.

The Federal Reserve said industrial production in October was unchanged, compared with expectations for a rise of 0.3%. Capacity utilization was unchanged at 74.8%.

Corporate Movers

General Motors announced its Chevrolet Volt won the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year award, a big win for the auto maker set to go public later this week. The magazine called the vehicle, the world’s first electric vehicle with extended range capability, a "game-changer.” GM also confirmed reports that it is raising its IPO price range to $32 to $33 due to heavy demand.

Apple (AAPL: 301.50 ,0.00 ,0.00%) reached a deal with EMI to sell Beatles songs on its iTunes music store, ending the most prominent holdout from digital music. Apple said the music is now available on iTunes for $1.29 each or $12.99 an album.

Wal-Mart (WMT: 54.13 ,0.00 ,0.00%) grew its third-quarter net profits by 9.3% and reported an in-line non-GAAP profit of 90 cents a share. Revenue inched up 2.6% to $101.95 billion, trailing the Street’s view of $102.26 billion. Wal-Mart raised its full-year outlook, projecting EPS of $4.08 to $4.12, which would top consensus calls for $4.02.

Home Depot (HD: 31.77 ,0.00 ,0.00%) beat the Street with a 21% rise in third-quarter profits and EPS of 51 cents. Analysts had forecasted EPS of 48 cents. Sales increased 1.4% to $16.60 billion, basically matching the Street’s view of $16.59 billion. While it trimmed its 2010 sales guidance, Home Depot now sees 2010 EPS of $1.95, compared with forecasts for $1.90.

Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS: 33.51 ,0.00 ,0.00%) surged 12% to 52-week highs as its non-GAAP EPS of 22 cents topped estimates by five cents. Revenue jumped 9% to $1.08 billion, exceeding forecasts. The retailer also sees stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter EPS of 69 cents to 71 cents.

Urban Outfitters (URBN: 36.59 ,0.00 ,0.00%) climbed 11% a day after the retailer forecasted its revenue would climb by 20%. Urban Outfitters also beat the Street by a penny with EPS of 43 cents. Sales rose 13% to $574 million.

Saks (SKS: 11.17 ,0.00 ,0.00%) posted a non-GAAP profit of 6 cents, doubling estimates for just 3 cents. Net sales also beat forecasts, rising 4.3% to $658.8 million. Saks was bullish on the holiday-shopping season, saying it sees same-store sales growth in the "mid-single-digit range."

Global Markets

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 lost 2.8% to 5681.90, France's CAC 40 slumped 2.63% to 3762.47 and Germany's DAX fell 1.87% to 6663.24.

In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3% to 9797.10, Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 1.4% to 23693.00 and China's Shanghai Composite plunged 3.98% to 2894.54.

The US$200-Trillion Debt Which Cannot Be Named

The scary real U.S. government debt ... Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff says U.S. government debt is not $13.5-trillion (U.S.), which is 60 percent of current gross domestic product, as global investors and American taxpayers think, but rather 14-fold higher: $200-trillion – 840 per cent of current GDP. "Let's get real," Prof. Kotlikoff says. "The U.S. is bankrupt." Writing in the September issue of Finance and Development, a journal of the International Monetary Fund, Prof. Kotlikoff says the IMF itself has quietly confirmed that the U.S. is in terrible fiscal trouble – far worse than the Washington-based lender of last resort has previously acknowledged. "The U.S. fiscal gap is huge," the IMF asserted in a June report. "Closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of U.S. GDP." This sum is equal to all current U.S. federal taxes combined. The consequences of the IMF's fiscal fix, a doubling of federal taxes in perpetuity, would be appalling – and possibly worse than appalling. – Globe and Mail (Canada)

Dominant Social Theme: What? That can't be. Let's not talk about it.

Free-Market Analysis: These numbers cited by Laurence Kotlikoff have been all over the Internet for a while now but have not been much reported by the mainstream press. No surprise there, but we are a bit shocked that the Globe and Mail chose to pick them up. Was it a slow news day? The story itself has been around since August.

Because the Globe and Mail has covered it, so shall we. Here is our question: Given these numbers, how can banks and institutions purchase US fixed income securities, let alone the dollar? What sense does it make? These large institutions, with fiduciary responsibility, are basically buying a bankrupt product. And it is not just the US. The entire Western world (maybe with the exception of Germany) is pretty much either flat broke or worse than broke.

For us, this shows as much as anything else how controlled the system really is. It's just a fiction and has little resemblance to reality. Institutions are said to flee to the "safe-haven" of the US dollar when they are nervous. But as Kotlikoff shows, the safe-haven is nothing of the sort. When one adds up all of the various commitments that the US has made abroad and at home (to its own citizens) the debt begins to add up to the monstrous, impossible number Kotlikoff arrives at.

So we ask: Can't bond buyers at large institutions add? How are they comfortable buying the bonds of a bankrupt entity? And why has it taken until 2010 for a mainstream economics professor to measure the "real debt" of the US and speak out about it? Heck we've known this for years now – and so have you! If the Western monetary system were a person, it would long ago have been declared clinically insane and shipped off to an asylum. What is worse is the conspiracy of silence about the "real" US debt, which we have to assume parallels at least partially the debt of other Western nations. The whole of the West is busted, pretty much – and the "austerity" plans being put in place are just more window-dressing, albeit of a very nasty sort.

Of course there are several ways out of this dilemma. Probably the easiest one is inflation verging on hyperinflation. If the US prints enough dollars-from-nothing (as Bernanke seems intent on doing) perhaps the dollar will lose so much value that the growing debt will be partially erased. Of course this basically debases the goods and services that people currently count on. The services will remain as a kind of legal fiction – funded but not worth anything.

Another more controversial way to get rid of the "real" debt would simply be for the US to devalue or to announce that it was not going to honor current accumulated debts. Of course this would do nothing to reduce further debt burdens (though it would certainly anger debt-holders) – and this is why Professor Kotlikoff predicts that many of the promises made by the US to its citizens will not be met. The article excerpted above informs of us following:

He opposes further stimulus spending because it will simply increase the debt. But he does suggest reforms that would help – most of which would require a significant withering away of the state. He proposes that the government give every person an annual voucher for health care, provided that the total cost not exceed 10 percent of GDP. (U.S. health care now consumes 16 percent of GDP.) He suggests the replacement of all current federal taxes with a single consumption tax of 18 per cent. He calls for government-sponsored personal retirement accounts, with the government making contributions only for the poor, the unemployed and people with disabilities.

The solutions offered by Kotlikoff would surely revamp the social contract that the US has with its citizens. But this is what is taking place in Europe as well. It turns out that the welfare state is a mathematical impossibility. Ludwig von Mises was correct. Those that practice socialism eventually bankrupt themselves.

Of course throughout most of the 20th century, von Mises (and the Austrians generally) were ignored by mainstream Western economics. Keynesian economics, monetarist economics, econometrics and even supply-side economics all got a broad hearing and received various levels of approbation from various social strata. But free-market economics was given short shrift. Except for the von Mises Institute, there were few supporters for its stiff dose of truth-telling. But look at where that has left the US and the West.

The 20th century as we have often noted was a true Dreamtime. People were convinced by the dominant social themes of the power elite that government was going to take care of them. As the century wound down the claims became more extravagant. Government workers especially won the right to stop working and collect pensions after only 20 or 25 years, and retirements became bigger and more gaudy as public sector unions pressed for more and more benefits.

But this was only part of it. In America, especially, people were led to believe that if they saved and "invested" in the stock market, they could do very well for themselves. They were led (promoted) to believe (as the Chinese believe today) that real estate was a good "investment" and that prices, while uneven, would always head upwards sooner or later. It seemed to make sense, after all, given that the demographics were fairly inexorable. Baby boomers would continue to bid up securities and commodities because there were so many of them. The Dow, one popular financial guru wrote, was surely going to 20,000 and even 40,000 in a fairly short period of time.

In the late 20th century, the power elite driven US financial/media complex was in its heyday. There were hundreds of magazines and dozens of TV programs all focused on explaining how to "invest" and where money should be placed for maximum advantage. The game was on. Millions of pages were printed explaining what mutual funds were "hot" and what companies were high flyers. NONE of this information, for the most part, ever mentioned real money – gold or silver – or predicted that gold would rise fourfold in the 2000s.

And now? Silence has begun to descend upon the hyperactive financial-media complex. Some of the most prominent business and investment magazines have either gone of out of business or been sold for a nominal dollar-and-debt. Baby boomers (and European pensioners) who until recently looked at their balance sheets and believed that their financial goals had been achieved are starting to realize that much of what they counted on is increasingly ephemeral.

Their housing valuations are impressive, but now banks will not necessarily lend against home equity and their domiciles are increasingly illiquid. Their stock portfolios were heavily damaged and somehow the current stock market rises have not helped replenish the equity. Their pensions – from large corporate employers or from the state itself – seemed solid, and yet Europe is finding out that those pensions can be rewritten and are not so certain after all.

What was the point of it all? Some people became teachers and put up with the increasingly ludicrous rules imposed by unions and the political correctness demanded by peers. Others became police officers and kept silent while their brethren-in-blue became increasingly cynical and violent. Still others worked for the state and turned a blind eye to the corruption and payoffs that went on all around them. People worked in non-profits and soon realized that much of the money that was supposed to go to needy clients never got there. People worked in finance and accounting and soon realized that most of their efforts involved increasingly useless record-keeping for an ever-expanding authoritarian state.

We could go on, and indeed we have mentioned all this before. Every part of Western regulatory democracy in the 20th century was a kind of Dreamtime. The elites spun magical fantasies that people, not knowing any better, inhaled ecstatically. People like to believe that life is certain and that social structures can guarantee wealth. But they cannot. Only human action can provide one with any certainty – and then only if one has accumulated gold and silver during one's lifetime.

Ironically, it has not, perhaps, turned out much better for Western elites. This tiny group of people puffed up by arrogance and secret internal narratives launched promotion after promotion during the 20th century. The idea was to frighten the middle class especially into giving up wealth and power to a specially created superstructure of global bodies that had been created as appropriate repositories.

But in the 21st century, even the Western elites have not fared so well. The Internet has stripped them of their anonymity and revealed their promotional machinations. The economic crisis, which they intended to use to create a one-world government, has become a problem as well, causing people to turn to the Internet to see what has gone wrong. The education that takes place every day is eroding the elite's hold on government, economics, military power and, most importantly, on the minds and psyches of the once easily-controlled masses.

Kotlikoff seems to believe that once people understand what has happened to them – once they wake up from Dreamtime – they will be amenable in some sense to a rational re-ordering of their deflating dreams. We think this is not necessarily an accurate perception. What he apparently expects is that people will patiently rebuild a system that has essentially served as a coffin for their hopes and goals. His idea is that a civil society will restructure its methodologies to deliver what is real and good and necessary.

But Western Dreamtime was never about delivering anything. It was about fooling the masses and the middle classes, draining them of wealth and power in order to create a One-World Order. The system, fully perverted early in the 20th century, was not set up to deliver anything; it was set up to extract something – most unfortunately the authenticity that people are capable of bringing to their lives and work. Once people realize just how badly they have been misled, we think a growing number will want to reject what we have called "regulatory democracy" outright. Thus, we think large-scale social cohesion will be harder to come by; and authoritarian solutions levied by a desperate power elite likely won't work either.

We have predicted – and continue to predict – a gradual entropy could overcome the rigid structures of modern nation-states, and larger political entities may begin to fracture into smaller ones. Gold and silver may come into circulation not via any economic or political mandate but simply because precious metals have historically been the money of choice absent government mandates against their circulation. People may pursue more entrepreneurial vocations; the family farm may return; the international corporation may fall on hard times.

Conclusion: All this depends on how badly Dreamtime is fractured by the coming realities and how angry people get about the wasting of their assets and opportunities. No, we don't know what is coming next, but if the Western elites cannot control society through its promotional schemes – due to an increasing lack of credibility – the ramifications are both significant and severe. People who have woken up (whether they wished to or not) will eventually begin to discover what it is to lead lives of significance and human action. Some may not enjoy it.

One in 7 US households hit by hunger issues in 2009

*Emergency food pantry use up sharply in recent years

*Food stamps used by 15 million families a month in 2009

WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The number of U.S. households that reported getting emergency food from a food pantry almost doubled between 2007 and 2009, at the height of the recession, a government report said on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the number of households jumped to 5.6 from 3.9 million.

"Households also accessed additional assistance through USDA's 15 food and nutrition assistance programs," the article in the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) "Amber Waves" said.

The USDA oversees the government's food stamp program, also known as SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, for low-income families and other domestic feeding programs like school lunches.

In the 2009 fiscal year, "15.2 million households participated in SNAP in an average month, up from 12.7 million in FY 2008," the article said.

« Ron Paul: "I Consider The Federal Reserve Act To Be Unconstitutional, Only Gold & Silver Should Be Legal Tender" (VIDEO) »

Some fiat truth to get your day started on the right path...

TSA screener terrorizes 3-year-old girl

Imagine taking your family to the airport and watching as Federal agents terrorize your 3-year-old child.

That is exactly what happened to little Mandy Simon.

She was first forced to surrender her teddy bear, and ended up getting flagged for further screening.

As the girl's mother held her, the TSA agent scanned her with a wand, and then proceeded to give the girl a more thorough search. As the screener searched her, the frightened girl screamed for the agent to stop touching her.

The girl's father, Steve Simon, works as a reporter for CW-39 from Houston, Texas, and managed to capture the encounter on his cell phone camera.

In the video, the girl is clearly traumatized as the TSA screener attempts to search her.

But the question remains - what is the TSA doing screening toddlers like this? Do they honestly think the little girl is concealing a bomb in her stuffed toy?

Terrorists have been known to use children in places like Iraq, but Houston does not have a history of bomb-wielding toddlers.

The TSA is charged with providing security on our airlines, but many are questioning their methods.

The Dallas Morning News reported last Monday that:

The TSA recently changed its hand-search policies. Before, the officers would use the back of their hand to check a person; now they are to use their open hand and fingers to go over one's body, including the genital area and breasts.

Mike Cleary, President of the US Airline Pilots Association, issued a statement which read, in part:

"Let's be perfectly clear: the TSA procedures we have outlined above are blatantly unacceptable as a long-term solution. Although an immediate solution cannot be guaranteed, I can promise you that your union will not rest until all U.S. airline pilots have a way to reach their workplace ... the aircraft ... without submitting ourselves to the will of a TSO behind closed doors.

"This situation has already produced a sexual molestation in alarmingly short order. Left unchecked, there's simply no way to predict how far the TSA will overreach in searching and frisking pilots who are, ironically, mere minutes from being in the flight deck.

"As we all know, it makes no difference what a pilot has on his or her person or in their luggage, because they have control of the aircraft throughout the entire flight. The eyewash being dribbled by the TSA in this instance is embarrassingly devoid of common sense, and we will not stand for it."

The agency is also under fire for the use of a scanner that can see through a passengers clothing. As reported by CNN Travel, passengers and pilots alike are up in arms over the scanners.

A group called National Opt Out Day is calling for travellers to opt-out of the screenings on Thanksgiving Day - traditionally the busiest flying day of the year.

After the incident with Mandy Simon, TSA officials said that screeners would undergo "sensitivity training" in order to deal with children better.

Perhaps the TSA should include a course on common sense followed by a course on the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.

In the meantime, they should keep their hands off our children and our bodies and instead focus on keeping terrorists off of commercial aircraft.

Ireland lets in the IMF under euro peer pressure

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Ireland agreed to work closely with its international partners on a support programme for its devastated banking sector after talks late Tuesday, but was still resisting pressure for an EU bail-out.

European Union economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund would work on a programme for Ireland "with an accent on restructuring its banking sector."

Rehn said after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers that Dublin had "committed" to come under a bigger umbrella after bond yields from Ireland and other weak euro economies went haywire amid frenzied speculation over recent weeks.

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan kept a brave face as he insisted afterwards that "no decision" had been taken by Dublin.

"The government did not commit to enter a facility, but there have been serious disturbances" on markets, he said.

"The ECB stood loyally behind Ireland and continues to do so. But there are important structural problems clearly there and reflected in the markets, that have to be identified.

"I'm not going to impose timelines, but this is urgent," he said.

He dismissed opposition calls for a snap general election, saying it was the "last thing Ireland needs at the minute."

Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams announced at the weekend he was resigning from British politics to seek office in the Irish parliament and campaign for a different policy response to the crisis.

Tuesday's development came after Prime Minister Brian Cowen insisted to lawmakers in Dublin's Dail that the discussions were about seeing how "irrational" markets could be "taken out of the equation."

Arguing that the bond market was "not normal at the moment," he said Ireland should not become "enslaved" and that preparations were about how Dublin could help "to ensure that markets are taken out of the equation."

Lenihan, who arrived almost two hours late blaming fog at Brussels airport, had stressed that Dublin was "fully funded" until the middle of next year, before coming on the end of serious arm-twisting.

"We will act in a determined and coordinated way if necessary to ensure the stability of the eurozone," said Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the group of euro finance ministers.

The outcome offers almost a mirror image of the build-up to a 110-billion-euro bailout of Greece in the spring -- when Athens spent months banging down Europe's door for loans.

This time however it is the money-holders who appear to have been trying to pressure Ireland into accepting aid.

Ireland's public deficit this year is set to pass 30 percent of GDP -- 10 times the permitted EU limit and double last year's Greek deficit -- after it had to pour billions into its crippled banks to keep them afloat.

Experts say Dublin could need about 70 billion euros.

The banking crisis has blown a huge hole in Ireland's public finances, and over recent days raised renewed fears of "contagion" dragging down Portugal and others.

EU president Hermany Van Rompuy began the day with a warning that the 27-nation bloc's very future could be at stake.

"If we don't survive with the eurozone we will not survive with the European Union," Van Rompuy said.

Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager had said Ireland's partners would support a country that met the conditions attached to aid, which implies tough demands to restructure its economy as was the case with Greece.

Among other eurozone members in the debt firing line, Portugal has warned it is also at high risk of needing help, given dangers of contagion spreading from Ireland.

But Spain said there was no reason it should be sucked into the storm.

Twenty-four of the EU's 27 states are currently running public deficits way above the EU limits of three percent of output.

Austrian Finance Minister Josef Proell meanwhile said his government would withhold its December installment of 190 million euros in aid to Greece, saying Athens had not met commitments made in return for its bailout.

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U.S. Pursues Wider Role in Yemen

Americans Move to Bring In Equipment and Operatives and Propose New Bases for Fight Against al Qaeda Affiliate

Reuters image
Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes
Wall Street Journal

The U.S. is preparing for an expanded campaign against al Qaeda in Yemen, mobilizing military and intelligence resources to enable Yemeni and American strikes and drawing up a longer-term proposal to establish Yemeni bases in remote areas where militants operate.

The developments are part of a U.S. scramble to step up the hunt for members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist organization behind a recent failed attempt to blow up two planes over the U.S. using bombs hidden in cargo.

Limited U.S. intelligence experience in Yemen has created "a window of vulnerability" that the U.S. government is "working fast to address," a senior Obama administration official said.

For now, the U.S. gets much of its on-the-ground intelligence from a growing partnership with Saudi Arabia, which shares a border with Yemen and has a fruitful informant network in Yemen's tribal areas.

In the rush to build up capabilities, the Central Intelligence Agency and other agencies are moving in equipment and personnel from other areas, and over the past year have expanded the size of teams in the U.S. analyzing intelligence on AQAP. The emphasis now is on expanding the number of intelligence operatives and analysts in the field.

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Surviving Inflation

The most common topic in the email I receive daily is inflation. I’d say 60% of the emails I get revolve around inflation, the other 30% is security and the remaining 10% about various survival related topics. Crime is probably the main concern in Argentina, with inflation in a very close second place, but you must understand that its been almost 10 years now since our economy collapsed and things have… lets just say, “evolved” into a new reality for us. For several years after the 2001 collapse, here as well, inflation was the main topic, the greatest concern people had. I find this to be interesting in many ways.
First, it clearly shows a growing concern about inflation in USA, and there’s good reasons for that. If you didn’t notice the inflation you just aren’t looking well enough.
This email is a good example, and I’ve received others mentioning the same trick being pulled:

You mentioned to watch for the downsizing of packaging at the grocery. Here in Nashville Tennessee I picked up a bag of sugar along with 70 some odd cans of fruit and vegetables. When I got it home I noticed that it was a 4 LB. bag. Normally these are sold as 5 LB bags.

Robert Nashville TN

That’s where you see what’s really going on, in spite of the official numbers. Statistics don’t mean much if the books are cooked. Why would I bother reading “The Washington Post” or “Wall Street Journal”, when the source used for their articles states source: INDEC. INDEC being in the hands of the Kirchners, who fired the people that did things right long ago, replacing them with pals that simply LIE about the economy. You can lie about lots of things, but you cannot LIE about data recollection, it’s a fatal mistake. You’re not only lying to the people, which should be bad enough, you’re also lying to yourself, destroying the opportunity of knowing what’s really going on with the economy as well as any chance of fixing it.

Information such as the one below, it gives you an idea of how bad things are, but at least in Argentina, we know for a fact that the official inflation is often half, one third or worse than the inflation indicated by private consultants. Keep this on for a few years, and there’s no records, no solid data left to work with to find a solution.

Hello Ferfal,

I just stumbled across this online inflation tracking tool, and I thought you might find it interesting.

Argentina is MUCH worse than the rest of the world! At least for now....

Keep up the good work!


When you check private sources like the one below, it gets scary and you understand why Argentina will devaluate soon, it must devaluate before the next elections. The graphic shows true inflationary prices per day, week and year. True Inflation in Argentina since 2008 according to MIT ? 100%
Check it out:

What it all comes down to is prices going up, and you can get by without changing the car that year or buying a new Laptop, but there’s still basic necessities prices and that’s where things get ugly fast:

CapnRick said...
As an Argentine resident with a dollar income accessed via ATMs, I can speak to my own personal experience with the dollar's problems in the international market.

The dollar has done very well against the Arg. peso... a 30% change in the dollar's favor since I moved here in 2008. However, the actual cost of things here in dollar terms have gone thru the roof over the last two years. I have no idea how families like FerFAL's with peso income manage.

Today, I walked out of the Toledo grocery chain store near my home without buying anything. The cold cuts I used to buy for 25 pesos have DOUBLED IN PRICE in the last 2 months. Whole chickens doubled in price about a year ago... but, their price went up 20% in the last few days (5 pesos a kilo 1n 2008... 10 pesos a kilo last week, and 12 pesos today). In dollar terms... 1.65/kilo in 2008, 2.50 a kilo last week and 3.00 a kilo today.

In terms my hungry tummy will understand, I can buy 45 pct less chicken as a year ago with my income staying the same. Damn.

Suerte -CapnRick
November 11, 2010 1:53 PM

Thanks Rick for the comment. (By the way, looking forward to seeing you guys this summer!)
This is a good example of daily life with rampant inflation. You just never know what the following day holds.
Yesterday for example, I went to Coto supermarket to buy groceries, cleaning products, etc. I didn’t buy anything fancy just, food and other house supplies. The toped off cart (small cart by US standards, not one of those big ones) ended up costing 1600 pesos. That’s 410 USD for pasta, cookies, vegetable oil, some frozen vegetables, milk and other dairy products. In January, a 120 gr. can of tuna, small one, cost 6 pesos. Yesterday I paid 10 pesos for it, about 2.5 USD for a tiny can of tuna.

The shopping cart inflation index is the most brutal one. They can say whatever they want on the news and in their financial reports, but when your money keeps buying less and less stuff, that’s what really matters. Its’ no mystery that today, with the same amount of money you used to top it off, you only fill the shopping cart half way through. That’s the explanation for the all too common Argentine joke whenever our president rambles about how great our economy is doing: “Its nice to know the Argentine economy is doing so well, too bad though that we don’t see any of that”.

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