Saturday, December 31, 2011

New York Building Cleaner Strike Could Have National Implications

As the New Year's Eve contract deadline looms for office cleaners who attend to some of New York City's most iconic buildings and the companies that own them, janitorial staff in cities across the country have indicated they won't cross picket lines if the two sides can't reach a deal.
Should unionized building cleaners around the country stand in solidarity with the 22,000 New York City office cleaners represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, the city's cleaners' struggle could swell to include about 100,000 workers. Such an action could disrupt business operations in thousands of facilities in almost every state. A national labor protest could also test the country's new-found interest in issues such as income inequality, and could possibly even reinvigorate efforts to organize other workers, labor experts say.
"That would be a dramatic show of solidarity at a level that we haven't seen in a long time," said Lance Compa, a lecturer at Cornell's Industrial and Labor Relations School in Ithaca, N.Y. Compa specializes in international and domestic labor relations. "I don't want to overstate this, but that would be a very, very big deal for American workers."
In New York, contract negotiations continue between companies that own and operate the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Time Warner Building and about 1,500 other facilities. The Huffington Post also uses office space rented in at least one building that would be impacted by the strike.
The union's contract with building owners expires Saturday at midnight. Building owners who were not authorized to speak on the record say they are moving toward a deal. Union representatives, however, say the two sides are still far apart.
The managers of the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center and the Time Warner Building did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
The dispute between New York building owners and cleaners boils down to wages and benefits.
Building owners say that New York's unionized building cleaners are the best paid in the nation, earning on average nearly $50,000 in wages and about $25,000 in benefits. That is more than unionized building workers earn in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, according to data released by the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB). The board is representing owners in contract negotiations.
Building owners want the union to agree to a two-tier wage system in which new hires would be paid on a different scale. They also want to eliminate an option that makes it easy for cleaners to make automatic contributions to a union political activity fund.
Board president Howard Rothschild could not be reached for comment Friday because he was engaged in nearly round-the-clock negotiations with union members at a New York City hotel. Rothschild told The New York Times that some progress had been made but workers needed to prepare for concessions. He also said that owners have made preparations for a possible strike.
"RAB, and its owner members, are proud that we have the highest paid building service workers in the country in one of the most unionized industries in the city, but continued wage increases that ignore conditions in the current economy cannot continue," he said in a statement released last month.
Nationwide, the median wage of building cleaning staff amounted to about $26,400 a year in 2010, according to federal wage data. The data includes both unionized and non-unionized workers. Across all industries, the median weekly wages of union workers are $200 more than those of non-union workers who do the same jobs. Union membership fell to a 70-year low in 2010.
An SEIU television commercial airing in the New York area indicates that building cleaners earn about $47,000 a year when they reach the top of the union pay scale. Union officials also dispute the owners' claims that the industry is facing across-the-board distress.
Most New York office buildings escaped the vacancy rates of 15 to 20 percent that damaged building owners in other cities during and just after the recession. Instead, the average vacancy rate in New York peaked at 11.7 percent in early 2010, according to an analysis by Reis, a commercial real estate data service. The situation continues to improve, with most industry forecasts suggesting modest gains for 2012. In the last three months, the city's office vacancy rate has declined to 10.6 percent, with average asking rent having climbed to roughly $56 per square foot. That is still short of the three-year high reached in mid-2008 -- nearly $66 per square foot -- when the average vacancy rate was just 6.1 percent.
New York also has one of the highest costs of living, according to union officials.
In 2010, a family of two needed to bring in between $54,536 to live in lower-cost Queens and $78,476 to live in lower Manhattan and cover all of its basic needs, including food, shelter and health care, according to an annual measure released by The New York Self-Sufficiency Standard Steering Committee in June. (See Appendix C for additional family types and areas.) The committee is comprised of economic research organizations and agencies that advocate for low-income families.
While the nation's unemployment rate hovers near 10 percent, several labor experts who talked to The Huffington Post said Friday that this level of distress doesn't necessarily make the union vulnerable to salary cuts. Cleaners are doing work that many Americans would be unwilling to do at the same or less pay.
If a deal between the cleaners and building owners can't be reached by midnight tomorrow, a strike could begin. Union members are prepared to take picket lines on the road to cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Oakland and others where cleaners have pledged that they will not cross them to work, said Kwame Patterson, a spokesman for SEIU Local 32BJ.
SEIU recently renegotiated contracts between cleaners and building owners in Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and New Jersey. Those deals include the option to stand in solidarity with other workers, according to Renee Asher, a national spokesperson with the union. Contracts that cover just over 155,000 cleaners around the country will also be renegotiated in 2012, she added.
If 100,000 SEIU members refuse to cross picket lines or go to work next week, such an event could have serious implications for building owners and the businesses that lease space in facilities across the country. Companies that own buildings in several cities could find themselves hunting for large numbers of replacement workers whom they would need to train and place quickly. Union officials have also said that UPS drivers, truck drivers and sanitation workers may refuse to deliver or pick up from buildings where picket lines form.
"The tradition of not crossing picket lines among working-class people is very strong, even today," said Michael Goldfield, a professor at Wayne State University, who studies labor, race and the global economy.
At Wayne State, in Detroit, Goldfield has heard students say they would "rather die than cross a picket line." For the sons and daughters of auto workers and other unionized employees, that is something that simply is not done. Goldfield adds that he never heard anyone say anything of the sort when he taught at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., where many of the students came from upper middle-class families and didn't know any union members.
Until the 1970s, large segments of the American workforce were unionized. The 1980s ushered in a period of aggressive and creative union-busting activities. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers after they violated federal law, went on strike and refused to return to work when ordered. In many of the industries that employ workers with limited skills and education, employers outsourced jobs like delivering groceries or cleaning buildings, turning once-unionized taxi drivers and delivery service workers into low-paid independent contractors. Many cleaners were pushed off building payrolls and onto those of cleaning companies that were not bound by labor agreements with unions. Those private companies secured contracts with buildings to provide cleaning services. They typically work small crews at odd hours, making it difficult for their workers to organize and, consequently, easier for employers to offer low pay and poor benefits, if any, Goldfield said.
"It's not a coincidence that most of these industries are today staffed very heavily, or almost exclusively, by immigrants," said Goldfield.
In the 1990s, an SEIU-funded organization, Justice for Janitors, staged a series of protests and bold acts of civil disobedience, including blocking traffic on the Washington, D.C.-area Beltway. Over the next decade, in contrast to other unions, SEIU managed to organize large numbers of immigrant and low-wage American workers around the country, Goldfield said. It also developed internal problems that inspired a breakaway group last year and, more recently, litigation.
Today the prerecorded outgoing message on SEIU Local 32BJ's main telephone line indicates that members of the union staff can communicate in several of six different languages and are ready and willing to connect workers with a translator to discuss concerns.
After public officials attempted to curtail severely the influence of public unions this year, several national polls showed that the majority of Americans support the idea of collective bargaining rights, said Compa, of Cornell. Since the Occupy Wall Street protests began this fall, millions of Americans have also begun to think and talk about the implications of work without health care or wages that cover one's needs, and whether so much of the nation's wealth should be concentrated in the hands of so few people, Compa said.
If New York's building cleaners can ultimately prove that collective barging and action helped them hold onto wages and benefits that move them close to or into the middle class, other workers -- most of whom have watched their wages stagnate or decline in the last decade, and the gap between their own pay and that of executives grow -- will take notice, Compa believes.
"If they can demonstrate that on a national level, I think that would be an important model for the low wage-sector generally," Compa said. "That's important, because unfortunately, jobs that pay very little are a growing part of the U.S. economy."
Still, Goldfield is less confident about the implications of a national building cleaners' labor dispute.
"It's hard to tell what the impact will be, what spark will start the prairie fire," he said. "This could be labor's moment. But it's always hard to say beforehand if something will catch people's attention and lead somewhere. Who would have thought that the peddler in Tunisia who set fire to himself would have inspired the Arab Spring?"

Obama And The Rule Of Law On Wall Street

For more details see this story:
Guest post from Jeff Connaughton, former Chief of Staff to Sen. Ted Kaufman.
Long silent and now contradictory, President Obama needs to deliver a clarifying speech about our financial markets and the rule of law. Speaking in Kansas on December 6, he said, "Too often, we've seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there's no price for being a repeat offender." Just five days later on 60 Minutes, he said, "Some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street wasn't illegal." Which is it? Have there been no prosecutions because Wall Street acted legally (albeit unethically)? Or did Wall Street repeatedly violate major anti-fraud laws (and should thus find itself in the dock)?
The President is confusing "legal" with "difficult to prosecute successfully." The Justice Department's repeated decisions not to risk losing at trial against Wall Street executives don't make these person's actions legal. (If a district attorney can't prove the actual thief stole your wallet, that doesn't make stealing legal. It simply means that, regrettably, a malefactor goes unpunished.) As Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami said in Senate testimony in 2009, Wall Street perpetrators "are smart people who understand that they are crossing the line" and "are plotting their defense at the same time they're committing their crime."

Moreover, the President is misleading us when he says that Wall Street firms violate anti-fraud law because the penalties are too weak. Repeat financial fraudsters don't pay relatively paltry -- and therefore painless -- penalties because of statutory caps on such penalties. Rather, regulatory officials, appointed by Obama, negotiated these comparatively trifling fines. This week, the F.D.I.C. settled a suit against Washington Mutual officials for just $64 million, an amount that will be covered mostly by insurance policies WaMu took out on behalf of executives, who themselves will pay just $400,000. And recently a federal judge rejected the S.E.C.'s latest settlement with Citigroup, an action even the Wall Street Journal called "a rebuke of the cozy relationship between regulators and the regulated that too often leaves justice as an orphan."
The Obama Justice Department hasn't tried a single Wall Street executive in a criminal court. Against a handful, it decided to let the S.E.C. bring civil charges of fraud, which are easier to prove. So if defendants' wrists are merely being slapped by the S.E.C. instead of cuffed by the Justice Department, Obama has only his appointees to blame.
For three important reasons, the President needs to explain why the Justice Department has filed away its investigations of big banks and Wall Street firms without indicting anyone. First, American confidence in the system is deeply shaken. Second, it strains credulity for millions of Americans -- and has impelled thousands of them to occupy public places in protest -- that no banking or insurance executive deserves criminal prosecution for the actions that brought on the financial crisis. Third, by failing to prosecute a single high-profile Wall Street actor today, the Administration is failing to deter financial fraud tomorrow.
The jury is out (alas, only metaphorically) on whether Wall Street practices that accompanied the financial crisis amounted to criminal fraud. Some legal commentators have concluded that the causes of the crisis were systemic and not the result of malfeasance or conspiracy. The debate about whether practices were illegal or simply unethical will never be resolved because only a jury can render a verdict after weighing the evidence, presented by opposing counsel, for each element of an alleged crime. That said, independent fact-finders like the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, and the bankruptcy examiner for Lehman Brothers have compiled compelling evidence of what, to many, certainly looks like fraud.
But did the Justice Department's senior leadership even make targeting high-level fraud a top priority? Did it plan, staff, fund, and direct a thorough, probing investigation of each of the primary potential defendants? While I was working in the Senate, conversations I had with Justice Department officials led me to believe that it didn't. As the New York Times and New Yorker have reported, the Department's leadership never organized or supported strike-force teams of bank regulators, F.B.I. agents, and federal prosecutors for each of the potential primary defendants and ignored past lessons about how to crack financial fraud. When Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and I met privately with Department officials in September 2009, one of them explained they were dependent on investigators to bring them cases (which typified, I believed, their passive approach). And, for their part, the investigators were receiving no help from bank regulatory agencies (in the 1990s, successful prosecutions after the savings-and-loan scandal hinged on referrals from the responsible supervising agencies, which provided key roadmaps for F.B.I. investigations).
The Justice Department, F.B.I., and bank regulatory agencies failed to design a prosecutorial strategy that would've indicted and perhaps convicted many top executives who knew that their banks were selling fraudulent securities that bundled together thousands of largely bad loans. These loans, known in the industry as stated-income loans and (more glibly and more accurately) as liar loans, were issued without verifying the borrowers' income. A former executive in charge of fraud investigations at mortgage lender Countrywide Financial told 60 Minutes that mortgage fraud at her firm was "systemic," but federal investigators never contacted her. The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has already declined to prosecute Countrywide executives. The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that approximately 90 percent of WaMu's home-equity loans were stated-income loans, creating, in the words of Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson, a "target rich environment for fraud." Yet the U.S. Attorney in Seattle decided not to indict anyone at WaMu.

Failure to disclose material information is another form of potential fraud. Merrill Lynch, for example, understated its risky mortgage holdings by hundreds of billions of dollars. Executives at Lehman Brothers assured investors in the summer of 2008 that the company was sound, even though the bankruptcy examiner later concluded that Lehman had engaged in "actionable balance-sheet manipulation."
Yes, with financial fraud, criminal intent is difficult to prove, especially when a defendant relied on professional advice from accountants and lawyers (and in some cases may even have been acting with the knowledge of the bank's regulator, who was apparently more concerned about the bank's financial soundness than about full disclosure to investors). But we shouldn't outsource the interpretation of fraud laws to a potential defendant's accountant and lawyers. And why haven't prosecutors used provisions in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which put in place tough criminal sanctions in the wake of Enron and other cases of massive corporate frauds? In the absence of an aggressive, targeted effort by the Justice Department, we'll never know whether crimes may have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Why didn't this happen? I wish I knew. At the Senate oversight hearings, Justice Department officials assured the Judiciary Committee that every lead was being pursued and every rock turned over. Doubtless they'll continue to claim this. Yet in Ron Suskind's book, Confidence Men, he quotes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as saying, "The confidence in the system is so fragile still... a disclosure of a fraud... could result in a run, just like Lehman." The Obama Administration is pushing hard for a 50-state settlement with the major banks for their fraudulent foreclosure practices, even though several state attorneys general have rejected this approach because, in their view, it would shield too much wrongdoing. Regrettably, Obama's top officials and lawyers seem more eager to restore the financial sector to health than establish criminal accountability among the executives who were in charge.
In 1986, speaking about the failure of another president's Justice Department to vigorously prosecute white-collar crime, former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and current Vice President Joseph Biden said that "people believe that our system of law and those who manage it have failed, and may not even have tried, to deal effectively with unethical and possibly illegal misconduct in high places." Until this president stops calling Wall Street's deleterious actions "not illegal," he's failing to deter -- and therefore effectively encouraging -- future financial fraud. And until he gives a clear and full explanation of the inadequate response of his Justice Department and S.E.C., he and his appointees are helping to undermine the public's faith in equal justice under the law.
Jeff Connaughton is the former chief of staff to former U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE), who chaired two Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearings on financial fraud prosecutions in 2009 and 2010.
Originally appeared at Huffington Post.

"Tim Geithner Ran The White House, Stopped Attorney General Eric Holder From Prosecuting Wall Street"

Watch Video

Who's the White House boss?
Start watching at the 2-minute mark.  This is the most important Ratigan clip since his on-air meltdown.  You will hear that Geithner and Summers defied orders from Obama and took over White House policy, instructing Attorney General Eric Holder to back off Wall Street criminal prosecutions.
  • "Geithner developed a system to keep the existing Wall Street structure in place with no prosecutions, and billions in additional bailouts."
You got that?  That's called an Executive Gag Order - Mr. President, shut your pie hole.
Don't tell anyone that a tax cheat shilling for Wall Street is actually the President of the United States of America and not the tall guy reading from the teleprompter.
Let's look at Citi's stock price today and back out the reverse 1-10 split.
So $27 divided by 10 = $2.70
So Citi is trading at $2.70 per share.  How are those confidence-inspiring stress tests working out for ya, Timmy?
More on this story from Bloomberg below:
Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner ignored an order in 2009 from President Barack Obama to prepare a plan to “wind down” Citigroup Inc., once the biggest bank in the world, according to a book to be released next week.
Geithner didn’t proceed with Obama’s order to develop a plan to dissolve New York-based Citigroup in March 2009, several months after the bank had received a $45 billion taxpayer bailout, according to “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President” by Ron Suskind, a former Wall Street Journal reporter. Bloomberg News obtained a copy of the book’s manuscript. The book, published by New York-based HarperCollins, is to be released Sept. 20.
Citigroup, led by Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit, posted $29.3 billion in combined losses for 2008 and 2009, much of them tied to subprime mortgages. U.S. taxpayers also guaranteed more than $300 billion of the lender’s riskiest assets to prop up the company as it neared collapse. Obama wanted to consider restructuring the bank while Geithner would also proceed with stress tests of the country’s lenders, according to the book.
Geithner didn’t recall Obama getting angry at him for not implementing the order and said that he didn’t “slow walk the president on anything,” according to the book.
In the book, Obama doesn’t deny Suskind’s account and doesn’t reveal what he told Geithner when he found out that Geithner hadn’t followed his order, according to a report today by the Associated Press, which said it purchased a copy of the book.
‘Systematically Undermined’
“The Citibank incident, and others like it, reflected a more pernicious and personal dilemma emerging from inside the administration: that the young president’s authority was being systematically undermined or hedged by his seasoned advisers,” AP quotes Suskind as writing in the book.

The Number One Catastrophic Event That Americans Worry About: Economic Collapse

Can you guess what the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is?  There are certainly many to choose from.  Many Americans are deathly afraid of a major terrorist attack.  Others live in constant fear of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes.  Still others are incredibly concerned that a massive pandemic will break out at any time or that World War III will erupt in the Middle East.  Yes, there are certainly a lot of potential catastrophic events that one can worry about in the times in which we live, but the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is actually "economic collapse".  At least that is what a recent survey conducted by Leiflin Inc. for the EcoHealth Alliance found.  But this goes along with what so many other polls have found over the past few years.  Over and over again, opinion polls have found that the number one issue that American voters are concerned about is the economy.  The truth is that average Americans are deeply, deeply concerned about unemployment, debt, the housing crash and the steady decline in the standard of living.  It has been years since the U.S. economy has operated at a "normal" level, and many Americans are afraid that things could soon get a whole lot worse. (Read More....)

New Asian Union Means The Fall Of The Dollar

Brandon Smith, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

One of the most frustrating issues to haunt the halls of alternative economic analysis is the threat of misrepresentative terminology.  For instance, when the U.S. government decided to back the private Federal Reserve in lowering the interest rates on lending windows to European banks last month, they did not call this a bailout, even though that’s exactly what it was.  They did not call it quantitative easing, or fiat printing, or a hyperinflationary landmine; rarely does bureaucracy ever apply honest terminology to their subversive activities.  False terminology is the bane of every honest analyst, because in order for them to educate and awaken those who are unaware of the truth, they must first battle through the daunting muck of the general public’s horrifically improper perceptions and vocabulary.  

The chain of financial events taking place over the past decade in Asia has been correspondingly mislabeled and misunderstood.  What some economists see as total collapse is actually a new and decidedly prophetic (or engineered) transition.  What some naively see as the “natural” progression of globalism, is actually a distinctly deliberate program of centralization meant to further the goals of world economic and political totalitarianism.  Asia, and most especially China, is a Petri dish for elitist psychopaths.  What we see as suffocating collectivism in this region of the world today is the exact social schematic intended for the West tomorrow.  Call it whatever you will, but on the other side of the Pacific, like the eerie smile of a sinister clown, sits fabricated fate.

The genius of globalization is not in how it “works”, but in how it DOESN’T work.  Globalization chains together mismatched cultures through circumstance and throws us into the deep end of the pool.  If one sinks, we all sink, enslaving us with interdependency.  The question one must ask, then, is whether sovereign economies are currently tied together in the same way?  The answer is no, not anymore.  Certain countries have moved to insulate themselves from the domino effect of debt implosion; one of the primary examples being China. 

 Since at least 2005, China has been taking the exact steps required to counter the brunt of a global debt collapse; not enough to make it untouchable, but enough that its infrastructure will survive.  One could even surmise that China’s actions indicate a foreknowledge of the events that would eventually escalate in 2008.  How they knew is hard to say, but if the available evidence causes you to lean towards collapse as a Hegelian creation (and it should if you are paying any attention), then China’s activity begins to make perfect sense.  If a globalist insider told you that in a few short years the two most powerful financial empires in the world were going to topple like bowling pins under the weight of their own liabilities, what would you do?  Probably separate yourself as much as possible from the diseased dynamic and construct your own replacement system.  This is what China has done….

China started with the circulation of Yuan-denominated bonds, like T-Bonds, meant to securitize Chinese debt, creating an outlet for the currency to go global.  China’s considerable forex and bond reserves make this move a rather suspicious one.  With so much savings at their disposal, why bother to issue bonds at all?  Why threaten the traditional export-based economy and the uneven trade advantage that the country had been thriving on for decades?  The success of Chinese bonds would mean the internationalization of the Yuan, a floating valuation of the currency, and the loss of the desirable trade deficit with the United States.  Back in 2005, this all would surely seem like a novelty that was going nowhere fast.  Of course, today China’s actions suggest an unprecedented push to convert to a consumer hub at the center of a massive trading bloc.  To put it simply; China knew ahead of schedule that the U.S. was no longer going to be a viable customer, and reliance on such a country would spell disaster.  They have been preparing to break away from America’s consumer markets and the dollar for some time.       

In 2008, after China announced the use of the Yuan in cross-border trade on a limited basis, I began to write about the possibility that China was preparing to break from the Greenback.  For the past few years my primary focus in terms of finance has been the East as a kind of warning bell for the state of the global economy.  In 2009 and 2010, it became absolutely clear that China (with the help of global corporate entities) was developing the skeleton of a new system; a trade network that that had the capacity to supplant the U.S. and end the dollar’s world reserve status. 

Since then, Yuan bonds have spread across the planet, China has dropped the dollar in bilateral trade with Russia, the ASEAN trading bloc has formed into a tight shell of export partners, and that is just the beginning.  Two major announcements in 2011 have solidified my belief that a complete dump of the dollar by Eastern interests is near…

First was the announcement that China was actively and openly pursuing the establishment of a central bank for the whole of ASEAN, with the Yuan utilized as the reserve currency instead of the dollar:

This news, of course, has barely been reported on in the mainstream.  As I discussed at the beginning of this article, the terminology surrounding economic developments has been diluted and twisted.  When China states that an ASEAN central bank is in the works, we need to point out what this really means; the ASEAN trading bloc is about to become the Asian Union.  The only missing piece of the puzzle is something that I have been warning about for at least a couple years, ever since my days at Neithercorp (see “Migration Of The Black Swans” as a recent example).  This key catalyst is the inclusion of Japan in ASEAN, something which many said would take five to ten years to unfold.  News released this Christmas speaks otherwise:

Japan has indeed entered into an agreement to drop the dollar in currency exchange with China and has expressed interest in melting into ASEAN.  Japan has also struck somewhat similar though slightly more limited deals with India, South Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines almost simultaneously:

This means that the two largest foreign holders of U.S. debt and Greenbacks will soon be in a position to tap into an export market far more profitable than that of America, and that all of this trade will be facilitated by currencies OTHER THAN THE DOLLAR.  It means the end of the dollar as the world reserve, and probably the end of the dollar as we know it. 

Japan’s inclusion in this process was inevitable.  With its economy already in steep deflationary decline, the Yen skyrocketing in value against the dollar making exports difficult, as well as the ongoing nuclear meltdown problem at Fukushima, the island nation has been on the edge of complete collapse.  Its only option, therefore, is to sink into the chaotic seas, or float like a buoy tied to an Asian Union.  There can be absolutely no doubt now that Japan will soon implement the latter solution.  

The dilemma at this point becomes one of timing.  Now that we are certain that two of the largest economies in the world are about the dump the Greenback, what signals can we watch when preparing for the event?  My belief is that the trigger will come squarely from the U.S. and the Federal Reserve, either as legislation to heavily tax Asian imports, a renewed threat of further credit downgrades like that which S&P brought down in August, or the announcement of more open quantitative easing.  Any and all of these issues could very well arise in the course of the next 6-12 months, QE3 being a basic no-brainer.  ASEAN could, certainly, drop the dollar immediately after their central bank apparatus is put in place, resulting in a much more volatile trade war atmosphere (also useful for full global centralization later down the road).  The point is, we are truly at a place in our economic life when ANYTHING is possible. 

My hope is that as our predictions in the alternative economic community are proven correct with every passing quarter, more Americans will take note, and prepare.  I can say quite confidently that we have entered the first stages of the catastrophic phase of the economic implosion.  All the fantastic and terrible consequences many once considered theory or science fiction, are about to become reality.

Practical solutions have been offered by myself and many others.  The only thing left now is to take action, or ride the tidal wave of destruction like so much driftwood.  We can help to determine the outcome, or we can be idle spectators.  In everything, there is a choice….

Brandon Smith is the founder of Alt-Market is an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for mutual aid and defense. Join today and learn what it means to step away from the system and build something better or contribute to their Safe Haven Project. You can contact Brandon Smith at:

Professor Murray Sabrin comes to Dr.Ron Paul's defense,says the fed is S...

Lunch with Ron Paul

By George Smith
Ron Paul published Gold, Peace, and Prosperity in 1981. What makes his pamphlet especially attractive today is the speed with which it can be consumed. A reader could get through his robust prose during an hour lunch break.

But why would a reader want to do that? Why not read one of Paul’s more recent books instead, even if it couldn’t be read in one sitting?

The answer is, the earlier work provides an excellent foundation for his later writings. It offers a clear, non-technical summary of his views on money and the economy.

Ron Paul has made his mark as an advocate of sound money. As such, he is totally opposed to fiat money and its imposition through the government-supported cartel, the Federal Reserve. It is largely through a hijacked monetary system that government has become a threat to civilization. In this pamphlet, Paul puts it all in perspective with everyday language, as if he’s talking to you - over lunch.

Sound money, he says, is money that is “fully redeemable.” The paper currency people use in transactions is only a substitute for money proper, which traditionally has been gold and silver coin. The adverb “fully” means that every note issued is a claim ticket to a specified weight of gold stored in a bank warehouse.

Why is this arrangement sound? Because it makes the value of money depend on the profitability of mining gold, rather than the “politics of the hour,” as Mises put it. A money that’s sound means the money supply remains relatively stable.

Unsound money is money that bankers and government can inflate virtually without limit. Unsound money equates “monetary policy” with varying degrees of inflation, as determined by a panel of politically-influenced bureaucrats.

Since inflation is indistinguishable in its effects from counterfeiting, the bureaucrats are simply counterfeiters with grandiose titles; their sacred monetary policy is nothing more than “legalized counterfeiting.” Inflation, Paul explains, citing Murray Rothbard, is “new money issued by the banking system, under the aegis of government.”

Blaming Arabs, businessmen, labor unions, or consumers for rising prices doesn't drown out the steady hum of printing presses running 24-hours-a-day, ballooning the money supply, and thereby debasing every dollar previously printed.
Referencing Hans Sennholz, he says:
An increase in the money supply confers no social benefits whatsoever. It merely redistributes income and wealth, disrupts and misguides economic production, and as such constitutes a powerful weapon in a conflict society.
If inflation is so bad, why does it exist? Because it benefits “whoever gets the new money first” - government, bankers, and favored businesses.
A good example is the credit the government created to bail-out the Chrysler Corporation, largely to finance a labor contract that pays the employees twice the average industrial wage. But unions, like businesses, can only persuade government to inflate if the inflation mechanism is in place. A redeemable currency would make this impossible.
Who pays for inflation? The poor and middle classes, and those on fixed incomes. By the time they get the new money - if they get it at all - prices have gone up (or they’ve failed to drop, as they would have without inflation). These groups are cheated by inflation, and eventually are either wiped out through currency depreciation or made dependent on government favors. This pattern has been known for ages, as Paul shows with numerous historical references.
Expansion of the money supply through "spurious paper currency," noted [Andrew] Jackson, "is always attended by a loss to the laboring classes."

"Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind," added Daniel Webster, "none has been found more effectual than that which deludes them with paper money."
But if prices rise from an increase in the money supply, wouldn’t the price of labor go up, too? Quoting William Gouge, President Jackson’s Treasury advisor in 1833, Paul writes:
Wages appear to be among the last things that are raised. . . . The working man finds all the articles he uses in his family rising in price, while the money rate of his own wages remains the same.
When Lincoln issued greenbacks to pay for the Civil War, Paul notes, “prices rose 183%, while wages went up only 54%. During the World War I inflation, prices rose 135%, and wages increased only 88%. The same is true today.”

In answer to the claim that the Fed was created to prevent inflation and the periodic panics that erupted in the 19th century, Paul points out that inflation was written into the central bank’s founding charter, in the requirement to provide a more “elastic” currency. With the Federal Reserve Act of 1913,

a 40% gold cover for Federal Reserve notes and 35% for Federal Reserve deposits were required. The fact that it was not 100% showed that the central bankers planned more inflation. . . .

The central bank never set out to protect the integrity of our money. In fact, the Fed set out to destroy it by institutionalizing inflation. The gold coin standard was doomed and today's inflation made inevitable the day the Federal Reserve was created.
A gold coin standard, regulated by the market, acts as a restraint on inflation because it is the money, not the paper issued as a substitute. This is why governments hate gold - they can’t produce it in unlimited quantities. Using a non-redeemable paper currency avoids the risks of raising taxes while allowing politicians to pay for their wars and bureaucracies by running the printing press behind the curtain.
Since a gold standard enables the average person to restrain the government's attempts to inflate, control the economy, run up deficits, and fight senseless wars, the central planners had to eliminate this fundamental American freedom to own gold. This was accomplished with the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, which outlawed private ownership of gold, prohibited the use of "gold clause" contracts, and abolished the gold coin standard.
Thanks to Paul and others who support sound money, the government in 1974
reversed the unconstitutional 1934 law that barred private ownership of gold. In 1977, gold clause contracts were legalized.
One of my favorite passages in the book is Paul’s succinct comment on the Great Depression. Ben Bernanke wrote a collection of technical essays on the subject and has earned the reputation among his Keynesian colleagues as an expert on the Depression, never mind that he got it wrong. In 2002 he famously apologized to Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz for the Fed’s mismanagement of the money supply after the Crash, which he concluded could have been avoided if central bankers had provided “low and stable inflation” as a monetary background. (For an in-depth discussion of this episode, see Joseph Salerno’s Money, Sound and Unsound, Chapter 16, “Money and Gold in the 1920s and 1930s: An Austrian View”.) Applying the Austrian theory of the trade cycle, Ron Paul summarizes the Depression in 25 words:
Federal Reserve inflation during the 1920s, combined with economic interventionism by both Republican and Democratic administrations, caused and perpetuated the Great Depression of the 1930s.
One could hardly state the truth more concisely.

Many commentators are pointing out that the U.S. is declining into a police state, if it isn’t there already, but what some - especially the monetarists - overlook is the connection between honest money and freedom. For Ron Paul, freedom is “the ultimate justification for honest money.” And here he presents one of the most familiar quotes in libertarian literature, a non-Keynesian comment written by Keynes himself:

There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and it does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.
Ron Paul was one of those one-in-a-million many years ago. Sit down with him some lunch hour and see why.
George Smith's most recent book is The Jolly Roger Dollar: An Introduction to Monetary Piracy, available on Kindle.

Obama and Geithner: Government, Enron-Style

Strongly recommend this piece at the Huffington Post by Jeff Connaughton, a former aide to Senator Ted Kaufman. Jeff is one of the smartest guys on the Hill and is particularly strong on issues surrounding Wall Street and the regulatory system. In this piece, he takes apart the oft-stated mantra that what Wall Street firms did during and after the crisis was maybe unethical, but not illegal.
He takes particular aim at Barack Obama, who recently tossed that line out on 60 Minutes in what I thought was one of the real low moments of his presidency. Here’s Jeff’s take:
Speaking in Kansas on December 6, [Obama] said, "Too often, we've seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there's no price for being a repeat offender." Just five days later on 60 Minutes, he said, "Some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street wasn't illegal." Which is it? Have there been no prosecutions because Wall Street acted legally (albeit unethically)? Or did Wall Street repeatedly violate major anti-fraud laws (and should thus find itself in the dock)?
The President is confusing "legal" with "difficult to prosecute successfully."
The notion that what Wall Street firms did was merely unethical and not illegal is not just mistaken but preposterous: most everyone who works in the financial services industry understands that fraud right now is not just pervasive but epidemic, with many of the biggest banks committing entire departments to the routine commission of fraud and perjury – every single one of the major banks, for instance, devotes significant manpower to robosigning affidavits for foreclosures and credit card judgments, acts which are openly and inarguably criminal.
Banks and hedge funds routinely withhold derogatory information about the instruments they sell, they routinely trade on insider information or ahead of their own clients’ orders, and corrupt accounting is so rampant now that industry analysts have begun to figure in estimated levels of fraud in their examinations of the public disclosures of major financial companies.
Beyond that, as Jeff points out, Obama is simply not telling the truth about the supposedly insufficient penalties available to regulators. Employing the famous "mistakes were made" use of the passive tense, Obama copped out in his December 6 speech by saying that “penalties are too weak." As Jeff points out, what Obama should have said is that "the penalties my own regulators chose to dish out were too weak":
Moreover, the President is misleading us when he says that Wall Street firms violate anti-fraud law because the penalties are too weak. Repeat financial fraudsters don't pay relatively paltry -- and therefore painless -- penalties because of statutory caps on such penalties. Rather, regulatory officials, appointed by Obama, negotiated these comparatively trifling fines. This week, the F.D.I.C. settled a suit against Washington Mutual officials for just $64 million, an amount that will be covered mostly by insurance policies WaMu took out on behalf of executives, who themselves will pay just $400,000. And recently a federal judge rejected the S.E.C.'s latest settlement with Citigroup, an action even the Wall Street Journal called "a rebuke of the cozy relationship between regulators and the regulated that too often leaves justice as an orphan."
What makes Obama’s statements so dangerous is that they suggest an ongoing strategy of covering up the Wall Street crimewave. There is ample evidence out there that the Obama administration has eased up on prosecutions of Wall Street as part of a conscious strategy to prevent a collapse of confidence in our financial system, with the expected 50-state foreclosure settlement being the landmark effort in the cover-up, intended mainly to bury a generation of fraud. Here’s how Jeff puts it:
In Ron Suskind's book, Confidence Men, he quotes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as saying, "The confidence in the system is so fragile still... a disclosure of a fraud... could result in a run, just like Lehman." The Obama Administration is pushing hard for a 50-state settlement with the major banks for their fraudulent foreclosure practices, even though several state attorneys general have rejected this approach because, in their view, it would shield too much wrongdoing. Regrettably, Obama's top officials and lawyers seem more eager to restore the financial sector to health than establish criminal accountability among the executives who were in charge.
In other words, Geithner and Obama are behaving like Lehman executives before the crash of Lehman, not disclosing the full extent of the internal problem in order to keep investors from fleeing and creditors from calling in their chits. It’s worth noting that this kind of behavior – knowingly hiding the derogatory truth from the outside world in order to prevent a run on the bank – is, itself, fraud!
This is exactly the mindset that led Lehman to the abuses of the "Repo 105" accounting trick, in which loans were disguised as revenues in order to prevent the outside world from knowing the dire state of the bank’s balance sheet.
Now Obama and Geithner are engaged in the same sort of activity, only they’re trying to prevent a run not on an individual bank, but the entire American financial services sector. Geithner seems really to believe that if fraud were aggressively policed, and the world made aware of the incredible extent of the illegality in our markets, that international confidence in the American financial sector would plummet and our economy would suffer – and suffer, incidentally, on Barack Obama’s watch.
Better, apparently, the Band-Aid the problem now, and let the real mess happen later on, on someone else’s watch, or at least in a second term, when there’s no need to worry about re-election.
Of course, this is exactly the wrong way to go about things. If Geithner and Obama really wanted to convince the world that America’s markets weren’t broken, they would effectively police fraud, and by extension prove to everybody that at the very least, our regulatory system is not broken.
But by taking a dive on fraud, and orchestrating mass cover-ups like the coming foreclosure settlement fiasco, what they’re doing instead is signaling to the world that not only are our financial markets corrupt, but our government is broken as well.
The problem with companies like Lehman and Enron is that their executives always think they can paper over illegalities by committing more crimes, when in fact all they’re usually doing is snowballing the problem so completely out of control that there’s no longer any chance of fixing things, thereby killing the only chance for survival they ever had.
This is exactly what Obama and Geithner are doing now. By continually lying about the extent of the country’s corruption problems, they’re adding fraud to fraud and raising such a great bonfire of lies that they probably won’t ever be able to fix the underlying mess.
If they looked at the world like public servants, and not like corporate executives, they’d understand that the only way out is to come clean. That they don’t look at things that way should tell people quite a lot.

2012: World On the Brink

As we prepare to enter 2012, a number of crucial issues confront us:

Economy: The bankster engineered implosion of the economy – beginning in 2008 with the collapse of the housing market – will likely reach a crescendo in 2012. The eurozone contagion will spread, taking down global economies. It will diminish national sovereignty across the board. The global elite are positioned to offer their world government and banking scheme as a curative and there will be increased pressure to implement their underhanded plan in the coming year.


War: 2012 will more than likely be the year the globalists make their move on Iran and also take down Syria. In recent weeks, the Iranians have awakened from their lethargy and are now making defensive gestures on the world stage. Over the past week Iran has stated in no uncertain terms its military will shut down the Persian Gulf oil trade by blocking the Strait of Hormuz if new sanctions on gas – in effect, a war embargo – are implemented. Iran’s ability to intensify and compound the global economic crisis and get nuclear super powers China and Russia involved in a coming cataclysmic war are all part of the plan to realize order out of chaos.

NDAA: The National Defense Authorization Act signals that the global elite are now ready to not only round-up and imprison Americans in internment camps – camps long planned and recently activated by FEMA – but are also ready to assassinate opponents and attack targets in a widespread cyber war against domestic enemies of the state. This is a new and frightening trend that will play out in the year ahead, especially if war is launched against Iran. Government invariably demands fealty and subservience as it rolls out its predictable us-versus-them narrative under the guise of patriotism during its engineered wars.

Police State: As noted last week, the TSA has officially announced it will move its hands-down-your-pants operation from the nation’s airports to bus stations, mass transit hubs and beyond. DHS boss Napolitano has said the DHS plans to be entrench its Gestapo apparatus at the local mall. By Christmas of 2012, the TSA and its heavily armed VIPR good squads may be forcing citizens through deadly porno scanners at the mall. Expanding roadside checkpoints – collaborative efforts between local cops, the feds, and the military – with deadly radiation scanners will also become normalized features of the American police state. 2012 may also be the year surveillance drones become a routine sight in the skies over many cities as militarized cops soak up DHS grant cash and further implement the global elite’s police and high-tech panopticon authoritarian state control grid.

  1. Infowars Nightly News: 2012 End of the World Hoax, Ron Paul Debate and More
  2. Leaked UN Documents Reveal Plan For “Green World Order” By 2012
  3. 20 Signs That The World Could Be Headed For An Economic Apocalypse In 2012
  4. World stands on the brink of biological war
  5. U.S. national debt: dancing on the brink of a world crisis
  6. 2012 National Defense Act Is ‘Terrifying’
  7. CIA Claims Iran Will Have Nuke in 2012
  8. Prognosis 2012: Towards a New World Social Order
  9. Not enough money for a 2012 primary?
  10. The Fed is dead, maybe by 2012
  11. Speculation Mounts Over Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Bid
  12. President Obama Is Selling Fear And War To Win Re-Election in 2012

The Economic Solutions Of Vampires

Brandon Smith, Contributing Writer
Activist Post

The vampire bat is a horrifying pig-nosed wart of a creature which feasts in a manner that, believe it or not, is a rather familiar scene to those of us who closely study alternative economics. After erratically flittering about in the sinking evening sky, it targets the warmth of a sleeping farm animal and latches onto it with its claws. Carefully, it inserts a fang into a vein-dense region of the creature’s body, and laps away at the blood. Normally, the oblivious livestock are completely unaware and helpless to the attack. The tiny parasite does not inflict an immediately mortal blow to its host, but over time, disease and physical debilitation result. The vampire has destroyed the animal, and, pathetically, the animal has no idea.

Just as in nature, the economic world has its own bloodsucking vermin in the form of banking elites which are a wretched drain on the whole of the human race. Without their vicious and predatory presence, I envision a world so rapturously above and beyond what we wallow in today that it is impossible to describe. The disgust many feel when considering the virulent feeding habits of the common mosquito or the slithering leech does nothing to compare to the utter gut-churning revulsion I feel when studying the financial habits of banks like the Federal Reserve and the “too big to fails”. They are without a doubt the most malignant form of social cancer imaginable.

And yet, after nearly four years of ongoing fiscal exsanguination, a sizable portion of the American populace is still looking to these pests for economic comfort and reassurance, just like farm animals consistently grazing near the entrance of a vampire bat cave, as if it is a shelter from harm. Worst of all is the willingness by which investors still, to this day, commit their savings and their livelihoods to the stock market meat grinder. Let’s be honest; the typical American daytrading investor is a complete moron. They have absolutely no sense of the fundamentals of our financial structure nor the eccentric rules by which it operates. They only have the faintest inkling of the functions of the highly manipulated stock market. They foolishly believe that what little money they make today riding the wave of an illegitimate liquidity driven rally they will actually get to keep. For them, stock investment is no different from buying a scratch-off lotto ticket at a hillbilly gas station; it is a cheap and tawdry game rife with failure but exciting to play, if only for a fleeting guilt addled thrill.

Economists estimate a '30% to 40% chance of a break-up of the euro in 2012'

  • 20% of economists predict eurozone break-up

  • Nearly all predict a return to recession in 2012

A majority of economists put the possibility of a eurozone break-up at 30-40 per cent in 2012, according to the results of a BBC poll - and 20 per cent even state the eurozone will not exist in its current 17-member form next year.
Nearly all of those polled predicted that Europe would return to recession in the new year as the continent struggles to get to grips with its debt crisis.
Most economists surveyed also expect UK interest rates to remain at historic lows of 0.5 per cent throughout 2012 – the same level it has been since March 2009.
European woe: Leading economists are expecting Europe to head into a recession next year
European woe: Leading economists are expecting Europe to head into a recession next year
The poll questioned 34 UK and European economists who advise the Bank of England on a regular basis, and of the 27 who responded, 25 predicted recession for Europe next year - a damning verdict by the experts on the future of European economy.
The views of Europe among investors are slightly more divided. In the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey, global investors were split over the future of the euro and question whether the eurozone can remain intact.
Nearly half of the panel - 48 per cent - believe that no member state will exit the euro in 2012 or the foreseeable future.
However, 24 per cent of the panel expect one of the 17 member states to leave the euro in the first half of 2012. In total, 45 per cent expect a member to depart in the foreseeable future, with 7 per cent undecided.

European markets have been hit hard in 2011 due to the looming uncertainty across the continent. Germany's benchmark index the DAX and France's CAC-40 have both fallen 15 per cent this year.
The FTSE 100 has fared better than its European counterparts, with the index set to finish roughly 7 per cent down on last year when it closes later today.
And it is not just European markets that have been burnt by the crisis. For instance, the Nikkei in Japan, has fallen 17 per cent – partly due to the eurozone problems, and partly due to the earthquake in March.
The pessimistic views on the outlook for Europe next year comes as growth has slowed in recent months, with the crisis forcing governments to curb spending and in turn, knocking confidence in global financial markets.
The eurozone economy grew only slightly in July and September by 0.2 per cent and the 27 economies of the EU grew collectively by 0.3 per cent.
And with the debt crisis carrying through into the New Year, many leading experts are convinced that Europe will return to a recession.
European debt crisis a 'significant threat' to the UK
The ongoing debt crisis in Europe will also have a detrimental impact to the British economy, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director general John Cridland.
He has warned that continuing weakness in the eurozone still posed a ‘significant threat’ to the UK as around half of exports go to Europe.
He said: ‘The faltering recovery with family and business budgets under pressure and the on-going crisis in the eurozone are stark reminders of the need to rebalance our economy away from household and government debt.’
However, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has hit back at the negativity surrounding the eurozone in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt.
He says that eurozone problems will be solved and he’s confident that Europe’s politicians will manage to stablise the crisis in 2012, to keep the euro together.
Whatever does happen, it is sure to be an interesting 2012 for Europe - will it be able to save the euro, pull together, survive, and prosper?

Read more:

US vs Iran: War over the Strait of Hormuz?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

US lawmakers get richer as voters struggle

Lawmakers are increasingly likely to be multimillionaires
and are on average nine times richer than
the other Americans
© AFP/File Saul Loeb

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The wealth gap between members of Congress and ordinary Americans is growing larger, with nearly half of all lawmakers now worth more than one million dollars, according to US media reports Tuesday.

US lawmakers are increasingly likely to be multimillionaires and are on average nine times richer than the other Americans, according to data made available to the New York Times and Washington Post.

The papers reported figures from the Center for Responsive Politics that showed the median net worth of a member of Congress stood at $913,000 and is climbing, compared to $100,000 and falling for the rest of the population.

Amid protests against the country's wealthy elite that have seen many US cities "occupied" by demonstrators, it appears elected many elected representatives make up the "one percent."

Among the richest is Republican representative from California, Darrell Issa.

According to separate figures from the Center for Responsive Politics' released in November, Issa was worth $195 to $700 million last year, his fortune coming from his car alarms business.

Texas Republican Representative Michael McCaul and Democratic Senators John Kerry, Mark Warner and Herb Kohl were also among the most wealthy.

 According to the Washington Post, members of the House of Representatives were worth an average of $725,000 in 2009 compared to $280,000 in 1984, adjusted for inflation. Those figures do not include home equity.

Their wealth stands in stark contrast to the economic fate of most Americans, who have seen their value shrink over the last two decades.

Over the same period American families saw their average wealth drop from $20,600 to $20,500, also inflation-adjusted and not including home equity.

The reasons for the gap are far from clear, although many point to the cost of running for office being a deterrent to the poor, and also lawmakers being able to profit from market-moving knowledge.

"I am sure that there are multiple reasons for it," Alan Ziobrowski -- a professor at Georgia State University -- told AFP.

Ziobrowski, who has studied how lawmakers' stock investments have faired, said "the situation is pretty straight forward" with regard market-generated wealth.

"You have got a Congress which is preoccupied with three things, with regulation of industries; they are preoccupied with taxes and they are preoccupied with the federal budget. Any one of those things can have an absolutely profound impact on stock price."

"They know about them before anyone else does and that certainly leaves them in a position that they can take advantage."

But that also gives rise to suspicious that the game might be rigged: "That is the underlying ethical question... when they do cast a vote are they casting it for their constituents, or are they casting on behalf of their portfolio? Unless you look in their head, there is no way of knowing."

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license

Egypt Charge 2 Israelis and 1 Ukrainian with Smuggling Weapons

CAIRO — Egypt’s state prosecutor on Monday charged two Israelis and a Ukrainian with smuggling weapons and trying to implicate Egyptian security, the first case of its kind against foreigners since longtime President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February.
A statement from the prosecutor’s office said the three would be tried in an emergency state security court, usually reserved for terrorism cases. No date for the trial has been set.
The charges are the first case of bringing foreigners to trial in connection with the turmoil in Egypt since the ousting of longtime President Hosni Mubarak in February.
Although not directly holding the suspects responsible for any of the violence, the statement said the smuggled weapons were to be used in “illegal” operations aimed to implicate Egyptian security. No further details were given in the statement.
Read Entire Article

Japan's industrial output down, unemployment flat

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's industrial output dropped last month — with production, shipments and inventory figures all decreasing — but government forecasters had manufacturing and production looking for a rebound this month and next, officials said Wednesday.
The unemployment rate adjusted for seasonal differences was unchanged in November from the previous month, at 4.5 percent, the government also announced.
Industrial output dropped a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent in November, according to the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry. It was the first decline in two months.
It said industries contributing most to the decrease were transport equipment, information and communication electronics equipment and iron and steel. Large and small passenger cars and cellphones were among the commodities adding to the decline.
The ministry described the data as "flat," and said manufacturing and production were expected to increase 4.8 percent in December and to increase 3.4 percent in January
In other economic data announced Wednesday, the government said the core Consumer Price Index fell 0.2 percent in November from year-earlier figures, its second consecutive monthly fall. The index, which does not include fresh foods, was 99.6 against the 2010 base of 100.
Core CPI for Tokyo in December — considered an indicator of future trends for the entire country — fell 0.3 percent.
In recent years, Japan has wrestled with deflation, or falling prices, which can drag on economic growth.
The ratio of job offers to job seekers was 0.69 in November, an improvement from 0.67 the previous month.
Figures released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs said there were 2.80 million people unemployed in Japan in November.

Obama Nominates Carlyle Group Partner to The Federal Reserve

Dees Illustration
Activist Post

While on vacation in Hawaii, Obama tapped Jerome Powell to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Powel served as the undersecretary for finance under the president George H. W. Bush and was a partner of The Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is a massive private equity firm and one of the largest defense contractors in the world.

They're made up of some of the most influential policymakers over the last five administrations including both Bush presidents, former Secretary of State James Baker III, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, former Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McLarty, and former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt to name a few.

Other notable investors in The Carlyle Group include the bin Laden family and the Saudi Royal Family.  Coincidentally, George H. W. Bush was meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington on the morning of September 11th with one of Osama Bin Laden's brothers.

Gerald Celente: 12 Trends for 2012

“Hold onto your hat, your wallet, and your wits.”
“After a tumultuous 2011 in which many of the trends we had forecast became headline news around the world, we are now forewarning of an even more tumultuous year to come.
While it would give us great pleasure to forecast a 2012 of joy and prosperity – all brought about by the wisdom and benevolence of our fearless leaders – since we are not running for office or looking to profit by gulling the people, we tell it as we see it in our 12 Top Trends 2012.”
One megatrend looms on the near horizon. And we forecast that when it strikes, it will be a shock felt around the world. Hyperbole it’s not! Our research has revealed that at the very highest levels of government this megatrend has been seriously discussed. Read on:
1. Economic Martial Law: Given the current economic and geopolitical conditions, the central banks and world governments already have plans in place to declare economic martial law … with the possibility of military martial law to follow.
2. Battlefield America: With a stroke of the Presidential pen, language was removed from an earlier version of the National Defense Authorization Act, granting the President authority to act as judge, jury and executioner. Citizens, welcome to “Battlefield America.”
3. Invasion of the Occtupy: 15 years ago, Gerald Celente predicted in his book Trends 2000 that prolonged protests would hit Wall Street in the early years of the new millennium and would spread nationwide. The “Occtupy” is now upon us, and it is like nothing history has ever witnessed.
4. Climax Time: The financial house of cards is collapsing, and in 2012 many of the long-simmering socioeconomic and geopolitical trends that Celente has accurately forecast will come to a climax. Some will arrive with a big bang and others less dramatically … but no less consequentially. Are you prepared? And what’s next for the world?
5. Technocrat Takeover: “Democracy is Dead; Long Live the Technocrat!” A pair of lightning-quick financial coup d’états in Greece and Italy have installed two unelected figures as head of state. No one yet in the mainstream media is calling this merger of state and corporate powers by its proper name: Fascism, nor are they calling these “technocrats” by their proper name: Bankers! Can a rudderless ship be saved because technocrat is at the helm?
6. Repatriate! Repatriate!: It took a small, but financially and politically powerful group to sell the world on globalization, and it will take a large, committed and coordinated citizens’ movement to “un-sell” it. “Repatriate! Repatriate!” will pit the creative instincts of a multitude of individuals against the repressive monopoly of the multinationals.
7. Secession Obsession: Winds of political change are blowing from Tunisia to Russia and everywhere in between, opening a window of opportunity through which previously unimaginable political options may now be considered: radical decentralization, Internet-based direct democracy, secession, and even the peaceful dissolution of nations, offering the possibility for a new world “disorder.”
8. Safe Havens: As the signs of imminent economic and social collapse become more pronounced, legions of New Millennium survivalists are, or will be, thinking about looking for methods and ways to escape the resulting turmoil. Those “on-trend” have already taken measure to implement Gerald Celente’s 3 G’s: Gold, Guns and a Getaway plan. Where to go? What to do? Top Trends 2012 will guide the way.
9. Big Brother Internet: The coming year will be the beginning of the end of Internet Freedom: A battle between the governments and the people. Governments will propose legislation for a new “authentication technology,” requiring Internet users to present the equivalent of a driver’s license and/or bill of health to navigate cyberspace. For the general population it will represent yet another curtailing of freedom and level of governmental control.
10. Direct vs. Faux Democracy: In every corner of the world, a restive populace has made it clear that it’s disgusted with “politics as usual” and is looking for change. Government, in all its forms – democracy, autocracy, monarchy, socialism, communism – just isn’’t working. The only viable solution is to take the vote out of the hands of party politicians and institute Direct Democracy. If the Swiss can do it, why can’t anyone else?
11. Alternative Energy 2012: Even under the cloud of Fukushima, the harnessing of nuclear power is being reinvigorated by a fuel that is significantly safer than uranium and by the introduction of small, modular, portable reactors that reduce costs and construction time. In addition, there are dozens of projects underway that explore the possibility of creating cleaner, competitively priced liquid fuels distilled from natural sources. Plan to start saying goodbye to conventional liquid fuels!
12. Going Out in Style: In the bleak terrain of 2012 and beyond, “Affordable sophistication” will direct and inspire products, fashion, music, the fine arts and entertainment at all levels. US businesses would be wise to wake up and tap into the dormant desire for old time quality and the America that was.

Jim Rogers Global Recession is Coming and It Will Be Worse Than 2008!

Stupidest government enterprise: $406k on coffee enemas

Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP
Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP 

Want to know where your tax dollars are going? Washington has a rapid response for that one on the ready: stick it up your ass.

No, really.

A recent report carried out by the Chicago Tribune reveals that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine — a branch of the federally-funded National Institutes of Health — has spent around $1.4 billion since it began 12 years ago on finding out, among other things, that coffee enemas aimed up the butt and into the intestines will, believe it or not, not aid in pancreatic cancer treatment. That messy test, reports the Tribune, was made possible thanks to a $406,000 grant.

What other scientific breakthroughs were made possible by your involuntary donations to Uncle Sam? Over half-a-million dollars helped scientists determine that AIDS could not be cured with prayer, and it took $374-grad to come to the conclusion that, contrary to popular belief, sniffing lemon juice will not help heal external wounds.

Dr. Wallace Sampson of Stanford University tells the Tribune that real medical wizzes “don't take public money and invest it in projects that are just made up out of people's imaginations." The government, on the other hand, likes to act on instinct. Such was the case with a study that spent $1.25 million to conclude that, “Hey, people with cancer feel better after being massaged.”

Also keen on massages: people without cancer.

While most of these makeshift science experiments are done without merit, the writer reveals that two-out-of-five American adults say that they’ve used alternative treatments during the last year. The Tribune doesn’t tackle how many people tried the coffee enema — before or after the results of the study — but with the alternative therapy industry raking in around $34 billion annually, the NIH seems to think that their little-known branch of barbaric home remedies is worth American tax dollars, even if it comes to the tune of $1.4 billion.

Think your money could have been better well spent? Take it up with the lawmakers that allow such funding. As RT reported earlier this year, your pennies on the dollar could have ended up elsewhere. After all, $900,000 in government funding recently went to the NIH to determine, among other things, the correlation between penis size and sexual health among gay men.

Infastructure, shminfastructure. These are real investments, America!