Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Video: High School Students Confront $14.3T National Debt

SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- "It's scary" said Mayra Araujo. "It’s huge," added Kaitlyn Everson. The two Snohomish High School Seniors are talking about this country's national debt. They've been studying the complex and daunting subject in Ben Doucette's Business and Marketing class and they're not too happy about what they've learned. "It's out of their control," said Doucette, "and all this spending has been done without their consent and yet they own the debt."

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Bankrupt WaMu To Become $5 Billion Tax Break For Needy Hedge Funds



But the real remaining asset is about $5 billion in tax breaks owed to the company. That means the hedge funds that snapped up WaMu debt will be able to buy companies under the corporate guise of WaMu and run them without significant taxes for a long time.

Shareholders agreed to a quick payout in exchange for the deal going through. J.P. Morgan also approved the sale. The only roadblock is the hedge-fund owners themselves: Appaloosa Management LP, Centerbridge Partners LP, Owl Creek Asset Management LP and Aurelius Capital Management LP.

An investigation is under way as to whether they used inside information about WaMu restructuring talks to benefit from debt trades.


Economic Forecasters

Most economic forecasters predict the economy to fall even deeper into debt. With today’s economy, we are living from paycheck to paycheck, if you are fortunate enough to have and income, millions of Americans are coming up short every month…

We realize that old habits are hard to break and leaning a new way of life is a challenge we all need to overcome. We have researched and explored the psychology of saving money and are sharing some of those finding, research, tools and information with you to help you secure your future by saving money.
Saving and saving behavior are a function of both perception of an existing need and desire to provide for the future!

Saving money and ways to saving money is not affective unless you use the information, tools and techniques you learned and make it work for you.
We have provided many helpful ideas of ways to saving money through this website, only you can make the changes necessary to change your direction.
Researchers have studied the psychology of saving and found successful savers use techniques to control spending and assumed confidence for good self-control. Attitude, motivation, careful planning and realistic intentions and goals are the personal tools needed for ways to saving money.

A familiar quote says, “A journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step”, we can use this quote as a focus for attacking the goal and task of saving money. If you think about what saving money really is; it is effectively about making personal improvements over the long haul, it is about lifestyle changes. By making a list of ALL your monthly expenses, including your splurges and discretionary spending, J Hamilton Fraser says in his Psychology of Saving Money, “Once your situation is visible in front of you, you can break some of your monthly spending habits into an “unacceptable” container. You will find justifiable discretionary expenses that can be trimmed back without feeling deprived.” By completely eliminating a few expenditures each month and cutting back a little on others, can add up to a substantial constant saving.

Starting slowly and taking small steps in the beginning without putting too much pressure on yourself, the feeling of the successful progress you are making may make you feel more aggressive about cost cutting down the road. As with any positive changes in life, once the drive toward saving money is established, it gets easier to do. Once you have successfully reprogrammed yourself into a self-controlled money saver, give yourself that well deserved pat on the back and the credit for the hare work and progress you have made.

These changes are going to present difficult at times and you might even slip back into old habits for a short time, when that happens try to pick up where you left off, if that’s too difficult, start over. Don’t overwhelm yourself at the beginning with cutting your expenses too short, give yourself a little lead way and pick up the pace as time goes on, it will get easier.

More Utahns raid their 401(k)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Not only are more Utahns taking money out of their 401(k), but many of us are canceling our payments into the account.

AAA Fair Credit Foundation President Preston Cochrane said, "People react quickly and maybe not as rationally as they should, in fear of falling behind. They look at that and feel it's their last option."

"Don't react. Be rational and make sure you're doing your homework and looking at all your options." - Preston Cochrane

Cochrane says the money isn't necessarily going to pay for large purchases or to bring down debt. He says people are using it cover regular, everyday expenses like food or bills. He says too many of us are strapped and our credit lines are maxed out.

"You're kind of at the end of your rope," Cochrane explained. "So, you look to see the pot of money that may be sitting in your retirement account and that might start to look very tempting in terms of access to cash."

Cochrane says it would be a much better idea to take money out of our savings accounts instead of our 401(k) to avoid the tax hit that will come from taking money out of the 401(k). Plus, he says it's also a better idea to sell assets, but many of us feel we've already sold what we can.

"Well, it's hard to give up assets if you own them. So, in many cases, people are much more willing to withdraw money out of a 401k."

How can we tell if it's time to borrow from the 401(k)? Cochrane says every case is different. There are times when people are in extreme need; they have to cover their mortgage payment or put food on the table and have no other way to pay for it. The main thing Cochrane warns people to do is not to panic.

"We tell people, ‘Don't react. Be rational and make sure you're doing your homework and looking at all your options and not just taking your friend's word for it."

Now Underway, An Outrageous International Land Grab

A massive international land grab is now underway as investors and national governments buy up millions of acres of farmlands in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It amounts to an unprecedented and novel set of enclosures of worldwide land, much of it customary land that rural communities use and manage collectively. Hundreds of millions of rural poor people rely upon the land for their families' food, water and material -- but they don't have formal property rights in the land. Those rights typically belong to the government, which is authorizing the sale of “unowned” lands or "wastelands" to investors, who will then use the land for market-based farming or biofuels production.

The implications for global hunger and poverty are enormous. Instead of commoners having local authority to grow and harvest their own food, they are being thrown off the land so that large multinational corporations and investors can feed their own countries or make a speculative killing on the world land market. A commons is converted into a market, with all the attendant pathologies.

The 2008 financial crisis and the recent round of rising food prices on world markets have spurred much of the interest in buying up arable lands in poor countries. Food-insecure countries figure they should take care of their own future even if it means depriving commoners in poor nations thousands of miles away. So Saudi Arabia is spending $1 billion for 700,000 hectares of land in Africa for rice cultivation. South Korea is buying up 700,000 hectares of African land as well. India is assembling investment pools to buy up farmlands.

These are some of the disturbing facts to be found in Liz Alden Wily’s remarkable report, “The Tragedy of Public Lands: The Fate of the Commons Under Global Commercial Pressure,” released by the International Land Coalition in January 2011.

I met Wily at the International Association for the Study of Commons conference in India shortly after her report was published. She is a political economist from New Zealand who has lived in Africa for years – currently, in Nairobi, Kenya – and studies land tenure systems and governance as an independent consultant.

Wily told me that the current land grab has the markings of an invidious neo-colonialism. This time it is not imperial nations asserting direct military control and exploitation of people and resources; rather, the process now consists of international investors acting in consort with friendly governments via liberalized trade regimes. The state, as the lawful owner of the lands, is often quite willing to help implement the enclosures, expediently seizing “unowned” lands on behalf of the buyers. Governments and well-connected elites can make out quite nicely by brokering the deals and legalizing title to the land.

The whole problem stems from the law's presumptions about what is to be considered property. Under European law, land must be registered and there must be a formal title, among other formalities. But in poor rural regions of Africa, such civil formalities are expensive and difficult to transact. Customary use rights in land are the norm. Conveniently for foreign investors, this facilitates the acquisition of legal title and cheaper prices.

What’s missing is a law protecting the commons – a recognition of rights of community-based governance that can stand up to private or state enclosures.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the regions most affected by the international land grab; the problem is especially bad in Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Sudan, Ethiopia and Madagascar. It is estimated that some 90 percent of the people in sub-Saharan Africa, or some 500 million people, use their lands as a matter of custom, and do not have statutory title to them.

All told, some 2 billion people around the world are estimated to be similarly vulnerable. Some 8.54 billion hectares (or 21.1 billion acres) of rural lands are presumed to be used under customary norms.

While champions of the free market like to tout the efficiency gains that will supposedly come from putting “unused” lands into production, such familiar narratives are self-serving propaganda. As one account on the website Farm Land Grab puts it:

It’s a one-dimensional stereotype that…. ignores [farmers’] intricate knowledge of local resources, the crop varieties they have developed to cope with a wide range of soil and climatic conditions, their complex and resilient agro-ecological family farming systems. It misses the bigger picture, the myriad other crops that the woman [framer] cultivates on a very agro-biodiverse family farm, the valuable trees that she and her family depend on for income, food, fibre, medicine, wood and that the soils depend on for fertility and protection. It perpetuates the false notion that Africa’s family farms are inefficient and non-productive.

The real story here is not about free-market productivity, but rather about dispossession, displacement and the loss of food sovereignty. Much of the investment in land is purely speculative, the result of too much capital roaming the world looking for lucrative returns. As a result, the people who have for decades used common forests, rangelands and farmlands as sources of food and household supplies, are exiled from their own lands: a modern-day enclosure of colossal proportions.

“In light of the fact that most allocations to investors are in the form of renewable medium-term leases of up to 99 years, it may be expected that loss of common properties will remove these lands from meaningful access, use and livelihood benefit for at least one generation and potentially up to four generations,” writes Wily. This is a recipe for decades of famine, poverty and political turmoil.

The whole, sordid trend eerily echoes the English enclosure movement of the 15th to 18th centuries: Investors and national governments collude in the sale of lands, “legally” expelling commoners from lands they have used for generations. International human rights law, indigenous people’s law and simple moral decency may regard the new land enclosures as outrageous offenses. But poor rural communities are not very well equipped to assert their rights before national or international tribunals.

A copy of Liz Alden Wily’s report can be downloaded here as a pdf file. Farm Land Grab is also closely monitoring this odious, little-known enclosure of the commons. Finally, see a report by GRAIN, a small international NGO concerned about farmers’ control over biodiversity and local knowledge: “Seized: The 2008 Land Grab for Food and Security.”

Malaysian Must see!!! Namewee 1Malaysia story 黃明志要見首相!

Doomsday - Friday song parody

Alan Greenspan Admits To Big Ponzi Scheme

I remember watching Alan Greenspan testify to the Senate Banking Committee in 2005 and my mouth hit the floor when I heard it. I have been looking of this clip for years, and could never find it. A friend finally sent it to me and I posted it to my YouTube channel and below in this article. I was just starting my Awakening process in 2005 and this was one of those thunderbolts that really sped up my awareness.

Senator Reed asked the sitting Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan if he still believed that we should maintain the fundamental principles of Social Security?

“I believe that we should maintain the principles of Social Security, but I think the existing structure is not working. Until we construct a system that creates the savings that are required to build the REAL assets, so that the retirees have REAL goods and services. We don’t have a system that is working. We have one that basically moves cash around and we can guarantee cash benefits as far out and whatever size you like, but we cannot guarantee their purchasing power. Do we have the material goods and services that people will need to consume, not whether or not we pass some hurdle with respect to how legal financing occurs. Financing is a secondary issue and it is a means to create the REAL wealth, not an end into itself.” -Alan Greenspan 2005

This is as close as you are ever going to get a banker telling you the truth. In this brief clip Sir Alan Greenspan admits that we have a Ponzi Financial system that does not create REAL wealth. “We have one that basically moves cash around .” If the Social Security is fundamentally flawed, the entire US Economy is fundamentally flawed. This financing mechanism the Fed provides creates NO REAL WEALTH, it merely creates cash out of thin air. Social Security then takes that cash and sets up a generational Ponzi Scheme to take from those that are working, to those that are not. Please don’t tell me that you paid in and that you are just taking out. The money that you put in years ago, got paid out almost immediately to those that were taking from the system back then. Those of you that are collecting money, are directly from workers who are working right now. What is worse, now we are paying people now on money we have not even collected yet. With 80 million baby boomers coming to take from from the Ponzi scheme this will end as badly as it did for Bernie Madoff’s victims. (Read:The Shock of a New Paradigm.)

“The whole government is a Ponzi scheme.” Bernie Madoff

  • There is not lock box.
  • There are no savings.
  • There are no REAL assets.
  • There is only a filing cabinet full of IOU’s

Here is a picture of your Social Security Savings. I am not kidding, that is it. Isn’t it crazy to think that this filing cabinet has trillions of dollars of IOUs? Isn’t crazy that we have been duped into thinking this was going to end okay? Isn’t it crazy that a woman that wears white panty hose is protecting our Social Security? I would want a vault with some guys with guns at the very least, but hey there is nothing really there, so why bother…

The most telling part of Greenspan’s testimony was when he admits that the Fed, can guarantee cash benefits as far out and whatever size you like, but we cannot guarantee their purchasing power.” This means that hyperinflation is the end game. We have billion dollar trade deficits. We have trillion dollar budget deficits. We have $4 trillion that needs to be financed in the next two years with NO buyers. We have $140 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities that are coming due. We also have the world’s reserve currency. Greenspan says, “sure promise whatever you like and my owners of the Privately and Foreign held Federal Reserve will make the money.” He does admit that he cannot guarantee that those trillions of dollars will buy any REAL goods or services.

Get your money out of all paper assets and into REAL goods before they make good on their promise to flood the world with worthless money. How many more times do you have to hear stuff like this to make your move?

“The last duty of a central banker is to tell the public the truth.” Alan Blinder, Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve

Rationing in China, Pakistan, Venezuela, Japan, Argentina; China Resorts to Punitive Prices to Curb Demand

Electric power shortages caused by insufficient water levels at hydroelectric stations in some places, and unaffordable oil prices in others, have led to rationing, blackouts, and other problems.

China Resorts to punitive Prices to Curb Demand

Bloomberg reports China’s Zhejiang Plans Punitive Power Prices to Curb Consumer Demand

China will impose punitive power prices on businesses that exceed consumption limits in Zhejiang province, a manufacturing hub bordering Shanghai, to curb demand during an expected electricity supply shortfall this summer.

China faces the worst power shortage in seven years as the economy grows faster than forecast and some utilities cut production or shut, hit by rising coal prices and government caps on tariffs. Zhejiang, on the eastern coast to the south of Shanghai, is host to companies including automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., owner of Volvo Cars.

The province’s 35.4-gigawatt generation capacity is 3.5 gigawatts short of what it needs during peak summer demand, the local government said.
High Coal Prices Cause Plant Closures

Please consider China’s Power-Capacity Utilization at Record Low
China’s power plants are operating at a record-low utilization rate as many have closed, potentially causing the most severe electricity shortage since 2004, Mirae Assets Securities said.

“Burdened by bulging losses, many power generators have shut,” Gordon Kwan, the Hong Kong-based head of energy research at Mirae, said in an e-mailed note today. “High coal prices and the capped electricity price have also reinforced fears” that power rationing may spread to manufacturing hubs including Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, Kwan said.

China’s April electricity output fell from a seven-month high as the cost of coal rose. Prices of the fuel at Qinhuangdao port, a domestic benchmark, climbed for a sixth week as of May 9 to the highest in more than two years, according to the China Coal Transport and Distribution Association.

The country may face a summer shortage of 30 gigawatts as supply lags behind demand growth, the China Electricity Council said on April 29. That deficit is about twice the shortfall Japan faced after the March 11 earthquake, Mirae’s Kwan said.
Venezuela Plans Rationing

Bloomberg reports Venezuela Plans to Ration Power for Second Year
Venezuela will ration power again this year, planning steps similar to those taken in 2010 amid an energy crisis, Electricity Minister Ali Rodriguez said.

“We’re going to reapply the measures we applied in Caracas last year nationwide, which punishes the wasting of electricity and encourages energy savings,” Rodriguez said in an interview on state television today. Any rationing measures require President Hugo Chavez’s approval, Rodriguez said.

Venezuela has struggled to boost energy-generating capacity to keep pace with an estimated 6 percent increase in demand this year. The consumption jump, if it persists, would require an additional 2,000 megawatts of new capacity a year, which is “unsustainable,” Rodriguez said.
Energy Shortages Spreading

Please consider the ASPO May 23 Energy Review
Pakistan and China continue to top the list of countries with the most serious power shortages. Last week brought in reports of energy shortages developing or worsening in Egypt, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, India, Japan, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Libya, Mozambique, Nepal, Venezuela, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania. Most of the reported shortages are of electric power caused by inadequate water levels at hydro dams or insufficient coal, but some of these shortages stem from unaffordable oil prices or the inability to import sufficient quantities of liquid fuels.

In most countries, electricity shortages quickly translate into increased demand for gasoline and diesel as organizations strive to keep important activities such as computers, elevators, hospitals, refrigeration and even factory production functioning with back-up generators.

Pakistan probably is suffering the worst from electricity shortages, the country simply does not have enough foreign exchange to import large quantities of expensive fuels. China however is a different situation. Beijing is committed to maintaining its economic growth which it can’t do without increasing supplies of electricity.

The Chinese only report their oil imports and electricity consumption monthly so the complete picture of their energy situation will not be known for a while, but if past shortages are any indication we can expect imports to increase, perhaps significantly, in coming months. Beijing is being unusually open concerning the seriousness of its growing electricity shortages which are said to be the worst since 2004. Rationing of power has started and reports of production shortfalls are starting to appear. In the past year the price of coal has increased by 20 percent while electricity rates have increased by only 2 percent leading to substantial losses for many Chinese electricity producers.

Summer is nearing, and temperatures across parts of South Asia are already running above 40o C. so the use of air conditioning is putting further strains on power grids. Wide spread blackouts and lost industrial production can be expected this summer if current trends continue. The liquid fuel shortages being reported in a number of the world’s poorer countries suggests that demand may indeed be outstripping available supplies with the poorer countries losing out in bidding for available supplies.

The June OPEC meeting is likely to be an interesting one. Iranian President Ahmadinejad appointed himself Iran’s acting Oil Minister over the objections of the Iran’s Guardian Council and plans to chair the OPEC meeting where he may attempt to drive up oil prices by challenging any Saudi effort to increase production officially.
Rogers Predicts Oil Price to Rise "Beyond Anybody’s Expectations"

Speaking with the British BBC, last Tuesday 17 May 2011, famed investor Jim Rogers chairman of Rogers Holding said he believes that the oil prices will rise “beyond anybody’s expectations” in the foreseeable future and that America is in serious trouble.

I do not know how high oil prices go and in what timeframe. Nor does anyone else. However, I do know that the price of oil (and everything else) will not rise above people's willingness to pay for it. Demand for oil will drop with rising prices.

Currently, much of the rise in oil has been speculation, just as it was in 2008. Rampant credit expansion and overheating in China has also contributed to higher prices. Near-term, slowing global growth seems likely to put a damper on prices.

Long-term, those who assume the Chinese economy can grow at 10 percent a year for another decade are in Fantasyland. Energy constraints will not permit it.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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F-35 now 'unaffordable': Defense official

The cost of building the F-35 fighter jet, set to replace a large part of the US warplane fleet, is "unaffordable" in its current version and must be reviewed, the Pentagon's top acquisition official said Thursday.

"Over the lifetime of this program, the decade or so, the per-aircraft cost of the 2,443 aircraft we want has doubled in real terms," said Ashton Carter, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

"That's our forecast for how much the aircraft's going to cost.

"Said differently, that's what it's going to cost if we keep doing what we're doing. And that's unacceptable. It's unaffordable at that rate."

The cost of the plane has jumped to $385 billion, about $103 million per plane in constant dollars or $113 million in fiscal year 2011 dollars, said Christine Fox, the Defense Department's director of cost assessment and program evaluation.

Republican Senator John McCain called the figure "truly troubling," considering the original price was $69 million per airplane.

"The facts regarding this program are truly troubling," said McCain. "No program should expect to be continued with that kind of track record, especially in our current fiscal climate," said McCain.

"It seems to me we have to start at least considering alternatives"

The F-35 or Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), made by Lockheed Martin, is the Pentagon's most costly weapons program.

An additional appropriation of $4 billion brings the cost of development of the plane to $51 billion, "dismaying" figures," said Michigan Senator Carl Levin, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"These are dismaying; indeed, they are disturbing numbers in costs to us and to the taxpayers of the United States," Levin said.

Carter attributed the cost overruns and delays to the plane's complexities and its radar-evading equipment, as well as the short-takeoff and vertical takeoff versions. And he said the culture of easy money at the Pentagon since 9/11 was also to blame.

"In the decade of ever-increasing defense budgets, which we just enjoyed, it was always possible for our managers, when they ran into a technical problem or a difficult choice, to reach for more money," said Carter. "And the money was available in the decade after 9/11."