Thursday, March 7, 2013

To Whom It May Concern

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US Oil Production Surpasses Saudi Arabia's for the First Time in a Decadet

This great graphic comes from Mark Perry's Carpe Diem blog, which I saw on the American Enterprise Institute website. It shows that last November, the US' oil production surpassed Saudi Arabia's for the first time in almost a decade.
Perry notes that the Energy Information Administration states that last year Saudi Arabia was the largest producer and exporter of petroleum and other liquids at 11.6 million barrels per day.  It estimated US output at 11 million barrels per day, putting it in second place for the year.   
Of course there is much fluctuation on a month to month basis and this coupled with what we noted earlier (record US petroleum exports in December) is a sign of things to come.   The financial crisis may or may not be a game changer in terms of the global political economy, but the cheap energy story in the US is a game changer and the full ramifications are still being contemplated.

See more from Marc Chandler at his blog Marc to Market.

Illinois State Government Wants All Gold And Precious Metals Registered


When The Gold Start Skyrocketing, People Will Wake Up To The Ponzi Scheme" - Gerald Celente With Adam Vs. The Man


Rand Paul: Economic Recovery Is Illusory, Stock Market Rally Solely Due To Fed's QE and ZIRP

Rand Paul: Economic Recovery Is Illusory, Stock Market Rally Solely Due To Fed's QE and ZIRP

Kenyan Economics: The Stock Market Doing So Well While Millions of Middle-Class People Are Being Pinched By Stagnating Incomes And The Increased Cost of Living! They Are Now Raiding 401(k)s To Pay Bills At Alarming Rate, Boston, Washington DC And New York Are Seeing Homeless Numbers Surge, Worst Since The Great Depression!!

Why There’s a Bull Market for Stocks And Bear Market for Workers

The corporate recovery.
Wednesday the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 14,270 – completely erasing its 54 percent loss between 2007 and 2009.
The stock market is basically back to where it was in 2000, while corporate earnings have doubled since then.
Yet the real median wage is now 8 percent below what it was in 2000, and unemployment remains sky-high.
Why is the stock market doing so well, while most Americans are doing so poorly?

Comparison between October 2007 and today

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Then 14164.5; Now 14164.5
  • Regular Gas Price: Then $2.75; Now $3.73
  • GDP Growth: Then +2.5%; Now +1.6%
  • Americans Unemployed (in Labor Force): Then 6.7 million; Now 13.2 million
  • Americans On Food Stamps: Then 26.9 million; Now 47.69 million
  • Size of Fed’s Balance Sheet: Then $0.89 trillion; Now $3.01 trillion
  • US Debt as a Percentage of GDP: Then ~38%; Now 74.2%
  • US Deficit (LTM): Then $97 billion; Now $975.6 billion
  • Total US Debt Oustanding: Then $9.008 trillion; Now $16.43 trillion
  • US Household Debt: Then $13.5 trillion; Now 12.87 trillion
  • Labor Force Particpation Rate: Then 65.8%; Now 63.6%
  • Consumer Confidence: Then 99.5; Now 69.6

Plosser: Fed Should Stop Easing as Costs Outweigh Benefits

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser said the central bank should slow the pace of its bond purchases because the potential costs from more stimulus outweigh the benefits.
“We should begin to taper our asset purchases with an aim of ending them before year-end,” Plosser said in a speech prepared for delivery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “With interest rates already extremely low and the Fed’s balance sheet large and growing, monetary policy is posing risks to the economy in terms of financial stability, market functioning and price stability.”
The Federal Open Market Committee is debating how long it should continue $85 billion in monthly purchases of Treasurys and mortgage bonds aimed at boosting economic growth and reducing 7.9 percent unemployment. Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Vice Chairman Janet Yellen in speeches this month affirmed a commitment to record stimulus pushing the central bank’s balance sheet beyond $3 trillion.

CNN: America’s Middle Class Is Losing Ground

When Debbie Bruister buys a gallon of milk at her local Kroger supermarket, she pays $3.69, up 70 cents from what she paid last year.

Getting to the store costs more, too. Gas in Corinth, Miss., her hometown, costs $3.51 a gallon now, compared to less than three bucks in 2012. That really hurts, considering her husband’s 112-mile daily round-trip commute to his job as a pharmacist.

Bruister, a mother of four, received a $1,160 raise this school year at her job as an eighth-grade computer teacher. The extra cash — about $97 a month, before taxes and other deductions — isn’t enough for her and her husband to keep up with their rising costs, especially after the elimination of the payroll tax break. Its loss shrunk their paychecks by more than $270 a month.
“If you look at how much prices are going up, you get in the hole really quick,” Bruister said. “It’s a constant squeeze.”
In the wake of the Great Recession, millions of middle-class people are being pinched by stagnating incomes and the increased cost of living. America’s median household income has dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000, after adjusting for inflation, and the typical trappings of middle-class life are slipping out of financial reach for many families.

Video Showing the Huge Gap Between Super Rich and Everyone Else Goes Viral – 9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact

Americans Raiding 401(k)s To Pay Bills At Alarming Rate

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A new national study shows that too many of us are cashing out 401(k) accounts to pay bills. If that retirement account is calling your name, a financial expert advises you to stop listening.
When the bills pile up and money is tight, many people turn to their 401(k) accounts to help ease the bind. 
Downingtown, Pa. CPA Jacquelyn Basso says it’s not a good idea to raid your retirement; you’re getting money now that you’ll need to live on when you’re older.

New York’s Homelessness Worst Since The Great Depression

State and local governments nationwide have struggled to accommodate a homeless population that has changed in recent years – now including large numbers of families with young children. As the WSJ reports, more than 21,000 children – an unprecedented 1% of the city’s youth – slept each night in a city shelter in January, an increase of 22% in the past year; as homeless families now spend more than a year in a shelter, on average, for the first time since 1987. New York City has seen one of the steepest increases in homeless families in the past decade, advocates said, growing 73% since 2002, and “is facing a homeless crisis worse than any time since the Great Depression.”
Homeless advocates said the Obama administration has focused on more visible problems, such as those sleeping on the streets, taking resources away from families. The steep rise has reignited questions about whether New York’s economic turnaround of the past two decades has helped the city’s poorest residents as they note (despite today’s Dow record highs), “the economy is nowhere near where it was.”
The blame apparently lies at the cessation of ‘entitlements’ as the DHS adds, since the end – in Spring 2011 – of a state-funded program that subsidized rent for people leaving shelters; homeless families have gone up 35%; but they also added that the city was working to find employment for the homeless, “a long-term solution.” Boston and Washington DC are also seeing homeless numbers surge.

Leonard Melman: Are You Prepared for Hyperinflation?

Brian Sylvester of The Gold Report (3/6/13)
As looming inflation, currency wars and a possible run on gold threaten to derail markets, Leonard Melman, author of The Melman Report, is setting his sights on the midtier and near-term producers that he wants to scoop up when the blood is in the streets. In this interview with The Gold Report, Melman explains why gold, silver and the companies bringing them out of the ground could do very well in the second half of 2013.
The Gold Report: You recently told a crowd of investors at Prospectors & Developer Association of Canada (PDAC) that precious metals are the best place to invest in an inflationary period. Why is that?
Leonard Melman: When prices are going up, you wouldn’t want to be in housing stocks or auto financing, but you would certainly want to be in precious metals. You also might want to short the bond market. That is why you have to be aware of the direction of inflation. It is important to the concept of precious metals pricing. If you’ve been around for a few years, as I’ve been lucky enough to be, then you can easily recall a time when high inflation was the absolute key ingredient in massive previous bull markets. That is why I thoroughly look at what has led to past inflation and hyperinflation. I use four examples: the Roman Empire, the French Revolution in the late 1700s, the German hyperinflation in the 1920s and the recent catastrophe of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. I examine whether America and other countries in the world are perhaps following the same paths that led to those previous hyperinflations.
TGR: Do you think investors are going to see hyperinflation in the foreseeable future?
LM: Not immediately. It’s like a doctor looking at a patient who is showing all the early signs of cancer, but the actual tumor hasn’t yet developed. It would be unwise to ignore those developing symptoms. That’s where I think we are. We don’t have hyperinflation yet, but many of the pathways that led to previous hyperinflations are present, and I think it would be very foolish to ignore them.
TGR: In a recent edition of The Melman Report, you quoted Patrick Armstrong, head of investment selection at Armstrong Investment Managers, as saying, “We think a currency war will be the biggest story of 2013.” How is that likely to affect precious metals equities?
LM: There has been a lot of coverage about currency wars recently. So far the main participants have been countries like Japan and the European community, which are very concerned that strength in their currencies is going to limit their ability to export goods at a profitable rate. Japan has recently done everything it can to lower the value of its currency and the euro is now entering a new period of weakness. So far, the one currency that hasn’t played this game is the U.S. dollar. The other currencies look weak compared to the U.S. dollar. When the U.S. dollar looks strong, usually gold and silver perform poorly, which we are seeing now. As the year progresses, the dollars’ immunity will soften, which should spill over into higher precious metals prices.
TGR: Gold has fallen below the $1,600 per ounce ($1,600/oz) support level. What is your macro picture for gold?
LM: I’m not one to ignore charting. I’m a member of the Canadian Society of Technical Analysts. I can’t ignore the weakness that gold is showing. However, I believe powerful forces, such as inflation and currency devaluation, are going to appear stronger in the future. That should lead to higher gold prices over the second half of the year.
Another factor is that countries are now repatriating their gold holdings. Germany just announced it is going to be bringing back much of the gold now held in foreign storage, particularly in France and in America. Venezuela just repatriated all its foreign gold holdings and Switzerland is now moving forward with a referendum on whether it should reform or repatriate all its gold holdings held in foreign lands. A lot of underlying pressures will be positive for gold and silver ultimately.
TGR: Do you believe that the timeframe for Germany’s repatriation of its gold has a lot to do with the fact that its gold may not actually be where it’s supposed to be?
LM: Of course, that’s one of the most important questions this is addressing. I find it very interesting that there has not been an audit of the United States government-controlled physical gold holdings in facilities such as Fort Knox or Federal Reserve vaults in more than 33 years. Can you imagine a private company getting away without allowing an audit of its books for that length of time? That is what the government has done.
If the gold isn’t really there, a sudden buying surge could occur as guarantors scramble to fulfill the demands.
TGR: Do you see gold continuing to trend lower through 2013?
LM: I’m looking for the long-term bullish forces to exert themselves during the second half of the year, particularly in the last quarter. There is a great deal of gloom and doom for metals at the moment. The gold share indexes, like the Philadelphia Gold and Silver Index (XAU), the Amex Gold BUGS Index (HUI) and the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), are all in virtual freefall. But wasn’t it Baron Nathan Rothschild who once said, “Buy when there’s blood in the streets?” Usually isn’t that what happens? A selling climax terrifies everyone and then, all of a sudden, with surprising swiftness, prices begin to recover and head higher.
We may be in the process of that now because the selling is absolutely pervasive. Such a selling climax could easily be followed by stronger markets in the second half of the year.
TGR: Silver is falling too, though slower than gold. What’s your outlook for silver?
LM: I would dispute that statement. Silver peaked in the summer of 2012 at $37.50/oz and it’s trading at $28.50/oz this morning. That’s a $9/oz difference, a 20+% decline. In the same time, gold has fallen from $1,800/oz to about $1,580/oz. That’s $220/oz, which is only about 12%, so silver is making a much greater percentage move to the downside.
I recently completed a chart analysis comparing the five-year charts of gold and silver and the timing of the moves is virtually precise. When gold makes a bottom, silver makes a bottom. When gold makes a relative high, silver makes a relative high. But in virtually every case, silver’s move is exaggerated on a percentage basis. The reason is that it takes less money to move silver than it does to move gold and therefore you get bigger percentage moves.
The same thing will hold true in the next bull market wave—gold will rally. Silver will rally in a greater percentage. Also remember, silver is an industrial metal and the beneficiary of many new scientific advances, which are increasing the demand for silver.
TGR: Where are you seeing value in the junior mining equity space right now? What types of companies will be able to ride this out?
LM: Several companies have entered production over the last year and once they have cash flow coming in, they can use it to develop their projects or build up their cash balances, thereby eliminating the need to look for financing. Those companies are in the best shape. Also, during the last couple of years several companies have adopted the royalty model, helping other companies get their projects into production and in return receiving royalties. Outside revenue options have been key for company survival.
One of the symptoms of the problems facing many juniors is a lack of cash and this shows up in the number of equity offerings in relatively small amounts, $200,000–400,000, rather than several million dollars. When I see those, I suspect that the biggest problem is just keeping the doors open. Those companies are in a difficult position and unless we get a rally quickly they may be in trouble.
TGR: When you last talked with The Gold Report, you discussed Orko Silver Corp. (OK:TSX.V), which has since had several takeover bids with Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. (CDM:TSX; CDE:NYSE) looking like the successful acquirer. What are the takeaways from those competing bids?
LM: Orko is a company I’ve been familiar with for some years and I have a very sound working relationship with Ben Whiting, the chief geologist. Orko’s strength came from the depth of its exploration and development, which took place over about a 7–10 year period, where it proved very sizable reserves, making it attractive to companies like First Majestic Silver Corp. (FR:TSX; AG:NYSE; FMV:FSE) and Coeur d’Alene.
Despite the difficult share price environment, companies believe Orko could develop into a very profitable mining venture and that is why it was so attractive.
It’s been a very profitable venture for Orko’s shareholders as the price bottomed earlier in the year at just above $1/share and now they are getting $2.70 equivalent value for their shares. That’s not a bad deal at all.
TGR: What are some silver plays that you are following?
LM: SilverCrest Mines Inc. (SVL:TSX.V; SVLC:NYSE.MKT) and Great Panther Silver Ltd. (GPR:TSX; GPL:NYSE.MKT) are two companies that I have followed for some time. SilverCrest has a productive mine in Sonora, Mexico, the Santa Elena, but it also has a very good prospective property, the La Joya in Durango. The company is using revenue developed from Santa Elena to finance exploration and development at La Joya. It is building value and the share price has reflected it.
TGR: SilverCrest recently doubled the contained silver equivalent ounces at its La Joya project from about 102 million ounces (102 Moz) silver equivalent to 198.6 Moz. Is that enough to create interest among the small-cap producer set?
LM: It’s enough to develop substantial interest if SilverCrest is aiming toward having the project bought out. But it’s also worth noting that SilverCrest is working to steadily increase production at Santa Elena. As long as it can obtain increasing rates of positive cash flow, it might be very interested in keeping the La Joya project and advancing it toward production. I don’t know if that decision has been made yet, but it could be attractive as a potential buyout for the La Joya, or as a possible candidate for production.
TGR: And Great Panther?
LM: Great Panther accomplished the same thing a few years ago. Its goal now is to continue to increase production and increase value through advancing other areas of exploration. The stock has moved sideways lately. Its mining operations have not been without some problems, but it appears to have the reserves. It has production capacity. It’s a worthwhile company for people to take a look at.
TGR: Great Panther is currently trading at around $1.12/share and, as you said, it’s been trading sideways since the fall. SilverCrest has suffered some bumps along the way, but is generally on the rise. Has Great Panther’s share price weakness made it a target?

LM: It could. If Great Panther is interested in entertaining offers, I believe there are offers out there. It has both the reserves and production capacity and that combination could make it very attractive to any company, but especially to a major. The majors are looking to replace the reserves they are going through. Companies like Great Panther could be on the shopping list.
TGR: Are there any other silver companies you would like to talk about?
LM: Well, one of the companies worth a look is El Tigre Silver Corp. (ELS:TSX.V; EGRTF:OTCQX; 5RT:FSE). El Tigre is a combination of many things. First, it has the potential for early cash flow because one of the values of its property is an immense tailings pile. It was left behind from mining operations that went on from 1905 to 1935. The operations handled ore, which was rated at as much as 40 ounces per ton (40 oz/ton), so when the miners of that era came across tailings that were only 3–4% silver, they deemed them completely not worth looking at. As much as 800,000 tons piled up through the years and El Tigre is planning to bring those into production.
The last time I talked to Stuart Ross, El Tigre’s president and CEO, the company was already assembling equipment and expertise to bring those into production at the earliest possible time. It’s looking at actual revenue production before the end of 2013. In the meantime the company has two goals for exploration on the property. One is exploring for gold, which it believes could be quite substantial, but it is also searching areas close to where the 40 oz/ton silver had been located during the first mining event in the hope of hitting some of those bonanza grades. There is both the productive end to it and a good potential exploration end. On a risk/reward basis El Tigre is a stock that people should take a look at.
TGR: Will the production be enough to continue to finance El Tigre’s exploration?
LM: I believe it will. We’re talking about 800,000 tons of tailings. If the company is recovering 2.5 oz/ton from 800,000 tons, we’re talking about 2 Moz silver. Even at today’s market value, that’s gross revenue of between $55 million ($55M) and $60M. With lower costs, even if El Tigre had to crush the ore, you can see that there is potential for very substantial net cash flow.
By the way, there’s also another important point about the tailings. There is as yet an undetermined amount of tailings, which were used as underground fill during the early mining operations. Some of those tailings could be of a much higher grade than just 3%. The company also has discovered some areas of 7% and 8%. So, the potential for revenue could be more than is just evident by the 800,000 tons in the big pile.
TGR: Do you have any other updates on companies?
LM: When we talked last time I spoke about Commerce Resources Corp. (CCE:TSX.V; D7H:FSE; CMRZF:OTCQX) and Zimtu Capital Corp. (ZC:TSX.V), which both share the same president.
I just met with Chris Grove, a director at Commerce. Chris was telling me that Commerce has completed preliminary economic assessments (PEAs) on both its tantalum project at Blue River, British Columbia, which is tantalum and niobium, and its rare earth element project in Northern Québec, the Ashram project, also known as the Eldor project. The next goal is to advance metallurgical studies on those projects. That work is underway at the moment so within whatever cash constraints are evident in the industry the company is still moving forward. The fact that Commerce has achieved two PEAs on widely separate projects is a very positive feature. It could conceivably make the company very attractive to end-user companies, which currently rely on China for rare earth elements. China appears to be very shaky looking forward as a source for those materials. Companies will be looking for North American sources and I think Commerce could be sitting in the right position.
TGR: Commerce recently announced that in testing it had doubled its concentrate grade from about 20% to 40% total rare earth oxides. It did so by using a new technology called wet high intensity magnetic separation. Commerce is claiming this is the highest grade concentration of any developing rare earth project. If so, it could make Commerce the preferred supplier of concentrate the world over because 40% concentrate is quite a high grade.
LM: In the rare earth field that would be exceedingly high.
TGR: What can you tell our readers about David Hodge, president of Commerce and Zimtu Capital?
LM: I have known Dave for quite a few years. Aside from his booming voice, he’s been instrumental in helping numerous mining companies find the funding to advance projects. Commerce was one of those companies that has come a long way under his leadership. He’s very active in the mining industry and very aware of developments. Through Zimtu he has been a substantial positive influence, which has moved several projects a long way forward.
TGR: It doesn’t hurt these days to have a financing arm connected to your company.
LM: Zimtu’s business is advancing junior projects. What it does is accumulate an inventory of junior projects and then market them out to groups that look as if they’re in a position to advance the projects. Zimtu has the capital available to acquire potential projects at rock bottom prices and build up the inventory of projects that can be farmed out to new sources of capital. The growing availability of new projects coming to market at discounted prices due to their owners’ financial difficulties could enhance the workability of its game plan very substantially going forward.
TGR: What’s happening in Cambodia?
LM: Angkor Gold Corp. (ANK:TSX.V) is a very interesting story. Perhaps the most interesting feature is that Angkor Gold is the earliest development company to enter into Cambodian mining development. It has a huge, 2,000 square kilometer holding. It started originally as a simple mining exploration and development venture, but has recently gone into project generation, including the building of future royalties. Those project developments have recently brought in more than $2M to the treasury and created a royalty base of 10% of any silver or gold produced from the new projects. It’s changing direction to bring in current revenue, so it doesn’t have to go to the financial markets to sustain its own exploration work. Angkor Gold is also insisting upon a royalty stream down the road if those projects enter production.
TGR: Angkor Gold was also seeking copper-gold porphyry targets. Have they made any progress toward finding a large copper-gold porphyry system?
LM: That is what I’m looking for right now. The company’s total property holdings are in eight different areas and some of them show the potential for copper, gold and molybdenum. The potential is there. The company is just in the early stages of a lot of its exploration, but the potential is very definitely there in several directions.
TGR: Thank you, Leonard, for your insights.
Leonard Melman, publisher of The Melman Report, has been writing about precious and base metals for more than two decades as monthly columnist for California-based ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal and Vancouver’s Resource World Magazine. He focuses on how political and financial considerations impact the world of mining and the prices of the metals.
Want to read more Gold Report interviews like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you’ll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Streetwise Interviews page.
1) Brian Sylvester conducted this interview for The Gold Report and provides services to The Gold Reportas an employee or as an independent contractor. He or his family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of The Gold Report: Angkor Gold Corp., Great Panther Silver Ltd., SilverCrest Mines Inc., Zimtu Capital Corp. and Commerce Resources Corp. Streetwise Reports does not accept stock in exchange for its services or as sponsorship payment.
3) Leonard Melman: I or my family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. I personally or my family am paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. My company has a financial relationship with the following companies mentioned in this interview: SilverCrest Mines Inc., Zimtu Capital Corp., Commerce Resources Corp. and Angkor Gold Corp. I was not paid by Streetwise Reports for participating in this interview. Comments and opinions expressed are my own comments and opinions. I had the opportunity to review the interview for accuracy as of the date of the interview and am responsible for the content of the interview.
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3,404 jobs lost in March alone and counting

March 6 , 2013
Vattenfall – 2,500 Mostly in Germany
Bloomfield public schools NJ – 86 Poss. Layoffs
Greensboro College – 6 Last Week
Lake City Ammunition Plant – Voluntary Layoffs
IBM – Moving Hundred of Jobs to Mexico
Thomas Cook ( UK ) – 2,500
Tooele County Utah – 23
Ramapo Central SD NY – 33+ Layoffs Possible
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort – Layoffs Poss.
Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility – 117
BAE Systems Wayne Site – Some Layoffs

March 5 , 2013
FreightCar America Inc Illinois – 254
Bell Helicopter operations – 15?
Boca Raton Bridge Hotel – 96 Temp. Layoffs
Hemlock Semiconductor – 400 Layoffs Permanent
YP Holdings – 120 Layoffs this Year
Lender Processing Services – 37
Cincinnati Public SD Ohio – 70 Layoff Notices
Desert Sands USD CA – 12+ Poss. Layoffs
City of Oglesby IL – 6
KeyCorp – 60 Jobs to India
Paso Robles SD in CA – Layoffs Possible

March 4 , 2013
7 Companies in Illinois – Plan 1,200 Layoffs in  Coming Months
TimeGate Studios – About 25 Layoffs

The Toronto Star ( Int. ) – Layoffs / Buyouts
Wichita Ambassador Hotel – 2
Katonah-Lewisboro Schools NY – 11?
The Indianapolis Museum of Art – 29
General Dynamics Mayport – 65
HP – Still 15,000 Layoffs to Go
Manhattan Beach USD – Layoffs Coming?

March 3 , 2013
The Vallejo school – Considers Layoffs

March 2 , 2013
UBS – 35 Senior Bankers
The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis – 8
Newark Public Schools -100 Layoff Notices

March 1 , 2013
Eaton Corporation Horseheads NY – 33
Eaton Corporation
Update: Compuware – 160 Layoffs
Logitech International – 140
Hoosac Bank – Merger = 20 Layoffs
Hasbro Game & Reality Production – 3
Boeing- 100+ at SC Factory
Memory Lane – Some Layoffs Reported
GameFly – 35?
The National Gallery of Canada – 29
Law Firm Patton Boggs – Layoffs Reported


Corporatism: A System Of Control Designed By The Monopoly Men Of The Global Elite

by Michael
Corporatism: A System Of Control Designed By The Monopoly Men Of The Global Elite
The Dow is at a record high and so are corporate profits – so why does it feel like most of the country is deeply suffering right now?  Real household income is the lowest that it has been in a decade, poverty is absolutely soaring,47 million Americans are on food stamps and the middle class is being systematically destroyed.  How can big corporations be doing so well while most American families are having such a hard time?  Isn’t their wealth supposed to “trickle down” to the rest of us?  Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works.  Today, most big corporations are trying to minimize the number of “expensive” American workers on their payrolls as much as they can.  If the big corporation that is employing you can figure out a way to replace you with a worker in China or with a robot, it will probably do it.  Corporations are in existence to maximize wealth for their shareholders, and most of the time the largest corporations are dominated by the monopoly men of the global elite.  Over the decades, the politicians that have their campaigns funded by these monopoly men have rigged the game so that the big corporations are able to easily dominate everything.  But this was never what those that founded this country intended.  America was supposed to be a place where the power of collectivist institutions would be greatly limited, and individuals and small businesses would be free to compete in a capitalist system that would reward anyone that had a good idea and that was willing to work hard.  But today, our economy is completely and totally dominated by a massively bloated federal government and by absolutely gigantic predator corporations that are greatly favored by our massively bloated federal government.  Our founders tried to warn us about the dangers of allowing government, banks and corporations to accumulate too much power, but we didn’t listen.  Now they dominate everything, and the rest of us are fighting for table scraps.
In early America, most states had strict laws governing the size and scope of corporations.  Individuals and small businesses thrived in such an environment, and the United States experienced a period of explosive economic growth.  We showed the rest of the world that capitalism really works, and we eventually built the largest middle class that the world had ever seen.
But now we have replaced capitalism with something that I like to call “corporatism”.  In many ways, it shares a lot of characteristics with communism, and that is why nations such as communist China have embraced it so readily.  Under “corporatism”, monolithic predator corporations run around sucking up as much wealth and economic power as they possibly can.  Most individuals and small businesses cannot compete and end up getting absorbed by the corporations.  These mammoth collectivist institutions are in private hands rather than in government hands (as would be the case under a pure form of communism), but the results are pretty much the same either way.  A tiny elite at the top gets almost all of the economic rewards.
There are some out there that would suggest that the answer to our problems is to move more in the direction of “socialism”, but to be honest that wouldn’t be the solution to anything.  It would just change how the table scraps that the rest of us are getting are distributed.
If we truly wanted a return to prosperity, we need to dramatically shift the rules of the game so that they are tilted back in favor of individuals and small businesses.  A much more pure form of capitalism would mean more wealth, less poverty and a more equitable distribution of the economic rewards in this country.
But it will never happen.  Most of our politicians are married to the big corporations and the wealthy elitists that fund their campaigns.  And most Americans are so uneducated that they believe that what we actually have today is “capitalism” and that the only alternative is to go “to the left” toward socialism.
Very few people out there are suggesting that we need to greatly reduce the power of the federal government and greatly reduce the power of the big corporations, but that is exactly what we need to do.  We need to give individuals and small businesses room to breathe once again.
With each passing year, things get even worse.  In fact, the founder of Subway Restaurants recently said that the environment for small businesses is so toxic in America today that he never would have been able to start Subway if he had to do it today.
For much more on how small business is being strangled to death in the United States, please see my previous article entitled “We Are Witnessing The Death Of Small Business In America“.
What I want to do now is to discuss some of the results that “corporatism” is producing in America.
First of all, we continue to see incomes go down even though we live in an inflationary economy.
As Time Magazine recently reported, personal incomes took a huge nosedive during the month of January…
Data released by the Commerce Department last week showed that personal income fell 3.6% in January, the biggest decline in 20 years. The drop was even bigger when taxes and inflation are taken into account. Real personal disposable income fell by 4%, the biggest monthly drop in half a century.
But this is part of a longer term trend.  Median household income in the U.S. has declined for four consecutive years, and it is now significantly lower than it was all the way back in 2001
Real median US household income — that’s “real,” as in “adjusted for inflation” — was $50,054 in 2011, the most recent data available from the US Census Bureau. That’s 8% lower than the 2007 peak of $54,489.
Meanwhile, big corporations are absolutely raking in the cash.  The following is from a recent New York Times article
“So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The U.S. corporate sector is in a lot better health than the overall economy. And until we get a full recovery in the labor market, this will persist.”
The result has been a golden age for corporate profits, especially among multinational giants that are also benefiting from faster growth in emerging economies like China and India.
Today, corporate profits as a percentage of U.S. GDP are at an all-time high, but wages as a percentage of U.S. GDP are near an all-time low.
Just check out the following chart.  Corporate profits have absolutely exploded over the past decade…
Corporate Profits After Tax

Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP continue to fall rapidly…
Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP
Most of the jobs being created in America today are “low wage” jobs.  Tens of millions of Americans are working as hard as they can only to find that they can barely put food on the table and provide a roof over the heads of their children.  The ranks of the “working poor” are exploding and the middle class continues to shrink.
Many of you that are reading this article are members of the working poor.  You know what it is like to stare up at your ceiling at night wondering how you are going to pay the bills next month.
Today, most Americans are living very close to the edge financially.  A recent article by NBC News staff writer Allison Linn shared some of their stories.  The following is one example…
Crystal Dupont knows what it’s like to try to live on the federal minimum wage.
Dupont has no health insurance, so she hasn’t seen a doctor in two years. She’s behind on her car payments and has taken out pawn shop and payday loans to cover other monthly expenses. She eats beans and oatmeal when her food budget gets low.
When she got her tax refund recently, she used the money to get ahead on her light bill.
“I try to live within my means, but sometimes you just can’t,” said Dupont, 25. The Houston resident works 30 to 40 hours a week taking customer service calls, earning between $7.25 and $8 an hour. That came to about $15,000 last year.
It’s a wage she’s lived on for a while now, but just barely.
Sadly, the number of Americans that are “just barely” surviving continues to grow.
But if corporate profits are soaring to unprecedented heights, then who is getting all of those rewards?
The monopoly men of the global elite are.
Just check out the following video which does a great job of illustrating how corporatism has systematically funneled all of the economic rewards in our system to the very top…
Once again, I want to make it very clear that I am not advocating socialism as the answer in any way, shape or form.  Socialism takes away the incentive to create wealth and it almost always results in almost all of the economic rewards going to a very tiny elite anyway.
As I said earlier, what we need is a return to a much more pure form of capitalism, but this is so foreign to the way that most people think that most people will not be able to grasp this.
It certainly would be possible to greatly reduce the power of the federal government and greatly reduce the power of the big corporations at the same time, but this is so “outside the box” for most people that they cannot even conceive of doing such a thing.
We need to create an environment where individuals and small businesses can thrive once again.  But instead, most of us are content to continue “playing the game” and getting enslaved in even more debt.
For example, according to CNBC, auto loans just continue to get larger and continue to get stretched out for longer periods of time…
American car buyers, attracted by new models and cheap financing, are taking out bigger auto loans and stretching out the terms of those loans to a new record length.
New analysis from Experian Automotive shows the average new car loan in the fourth quarter of last year was $26,691 and stretched out over an average of 65 months. The length of the average loan is one month longer than the previous record set in the third quarter of last year.
What will they think of next?
Will we eventually have auto loans that get paid off over 10 years?
By the way, that is another way that the monopoly men of the global elite get all of our money.  They enslave us to debt, and we spend year after year of our lives slaving away to make them even wealthier.
They are very smart.  There is a reason why they have 32 TRILLION dollars stashed away in offshore tax havens.  They know how to play the game, and they are very happy that most of the rest of us are asleep.
Fortunately, it appears that an increasing number of Americans are waking up.
For example, I wanted to share with you all an excerpt from a comment that one of my readers left on one of my recent articles
In the past year, I’ve been slowly but surely waking up to the nonsense happening around me. There’s so many things I need to simply get off my chest, so excuse the length of this post. Recently in the past two years, I’ve gotten married and have been medically discharged from the Marines after being injured in Afghanistan. Being 23 years old and married, my goal is secure a secure a future for my family, but with the way things are going, I’m not exactly sure how much of a future we’re going to have in 50 years. I can’t explain it, but I’ve felt this need to change my attitude and motivations lately.
I started by turning off the garbage music, television and other mindless entertainment that seems to plague my generation. It was easier than it looked – I don’t miss most of it really. The next order of business was to educate myself on world news, so that’s what I did. Every day, like clockwork, I check all major mainstream news feeds (NBC, Fox, Abc, CNN, Reuters, BBC, etc.) as well as not-so-mainstream news sites – yours being one of them. It’s incredible how fast our world changes and the manner in which it changes. The local 10 o’clock doesn’t show anything but local news, sports, weather, lottery #’s and whatever else they decide to throw in. It’s a night and day difference once you start to actually research and see what’s happening all over the world. Look at the number of comments about a news story on the economy and then look at a celebrity story on the “news”….People are so blind, it truly amazes me. My friends, family and classmates at college seem to be under a spell of some sort. They’re distracted – and it’s contagious. Nobody I know gives a damn about global affairs/economics. They’re more interested in the newest iPhone, cars, shows, movies, and just about anything else you can think of. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things, but my friends/family/peers are CONSUMED by these distractions. When the election was taking place in 2012, every Tom, Dick and Harry on Facebook had an opinion and rant. After the circus ended however, everyone simply went back to posting about parties, kittens, Farmville etc. It’s a huge joke. For me, it’s little terrifying and exciting to see history unfolding in front of our eyes. This country of ours is going through big changes now that will most certainly affect our future, so I strive to adapt and prepare myself and my family. I’m looking at buying my first home this summer. Right now I live in an apartment right outside Philly and spend more money on rent than most pay for a mortgage. I need a house with a little land to raise chickens, grow fruits/vegetables, store canned food – and to be as independent from the system as I can. For my job, I wanted a skill/trade that people would always need, so I picked the funeral business. On the side, I work in construction and have been learning everything there is to know about building with my own two hands. I feel as though these old forgotten skills are going to be handy in a short while.
Hopefully we can get a lot more people to wake up and start breaking out of “the matrix” of control that is all around us.
Right now, the system is designed to continually funnel more money and more power to the very top of the pyramid.  The global elite are becoming more dominant with each passing day.  Unless something dramatic happens, at some point the American people will become so powerless that they won’t be able to do anything about it even if they wanted to.
The idea of a very tiny elite completely dominating all the rest of us goes against everything that America is supposed to stand for.  In the end, it will result in absolute tyranny if it is not stopped.

WATCH: Eric Holder Questioned On Too Big To Jail

Stunning admission from today's testimony.
Holder explains why he doesn't prosecute Wall Street banks.
Attorney General Eric Holder responds to a question during Senate testimony on whether some banks are too big to jail.  At this point, this is the only video available from today's hearing.  We will add more highlights as we find them.
After the hearing, the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, issued a statement calling Mr. Holder’s remarks "stunning."
"Mr. Holder recognized that in effect, the big banks and their senior executives have a get-out-of-jail-free card."
Holder quote:
"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.  And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."

Full Transcript
Note - Includes more of the exchange than what was shown in the video.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa: In the case of bank prosecution. I'm concerned we have a mentality of 'too big to jail' in the financial sector, spreading from fraud cases to terrorist financing to money laundering cases. I would cite HSBC.
I think we are on a slippery slope and that's background for this question. I don't have recollection of DOJ prosecuting any high-profile financial criminal convictions in either companies or individuals.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said that one reason that DOJ has not sought these prosecutions is because it reaches out to 'experts' to see what effect the prosecution will have on the financial markets. On Jan. 29, Sen. Sherrod Brown and I requested details on who these so-called 'experts' are. So far we have not received any information. Maybe you're going to but why have we not yet been provided the names of experts the DOJ consults as we requested on Jan. 29? We continue to find out why we aren't having these high-profile cases...
Attorney General Eric Holder: We will endeavor to answer your letter, Senator. We did not, as I understand it, endeavor to obtain experts outside of the government in making determinations with regard to HSBC.
Just putting that aside for a minute though, the concern that you have raised is one that I, frankly, share. I'm not talking about HSBC here, that would be inappropriate. But I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.
Again, I'm not talking about HSBC, this is more of a general comment. I think it has an inhibiting influence, impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate. I think that's something that we — you all [Congress] — need to consider. The concern that you raised is actually one that I share.
Grassley: Do you believe that the investment bankers that were repackaging bad mortgages that were AAA-rated are guilty of fraud or is it a case of just not being aggressive or effective enough to prove that they did something fraudulent and criminal?
Holder: We looked at those kinds of cases. I think we have been appropriately aggressive, these are not always easy cases to make. When you look at these cases, you see that things were done 'wrong' then the question is whether or not they were illegal. And I think the people in our criminal division... I think have been as aggressive as they could be, brought cases where we think we could have brought them. I know that in some instances that has not been a satisfying answer to people, but we have been as aggressive as we could have been.
Grassley: If you constitutionally can jail the CEO of a major institution, that is going to send a pretty wide signal to stop a lot of activity that people think they can get away with.
Holder: You are right, senator. The greatest deterrent effect is not to prosecute a corporation — although that's important — the greatest deterrent effect is to prosecute the individuals in the corporations that are responsible for those decisions. We've done that in the UBS matter and try to do that whenever we can. But the point that you make is a good one.

This is brilliant:

SATIRE: Lanny Breuer On Wall Street Fraud

Stocks waver, Dow hits new all-time high (again)

A record-high Dow Jones industrial average and an upbeat hiring report propelled global markets higher Wednesday.
The Dow, after setting an all-time high Tuesday, did it again Wednesday, after climbing another 0.3% from that previous close. It now stands at 14,296.24 -- about 42 points above Tuesday's close of 14,254.38.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index gained a point, or 0.1%, less than 25 points from its all-time closing high. On this date in 2009, the S&P closed at 666 and began its rebound after falling steeply in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown.
The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.1%. It remains 30% below its all-time closing high set in March 2000 at the height of the dot-com bubble.
Stock futures got a lift after the 8:15 a.m. ET release of payroll processor ADP's monthly private employment estimate. ADP estimated that businesses added a robust 198,000 jobs in February.
Meantime, investors continue to shrug off a budget impasse in Washington that has triggered $1.3 trillion in discretionary and defense cuts in 2013 and will cut at least 0.5 percentage point from economic growth this year. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note is at 1.94%, down from an earlier high this year of 2.02%.
European shares added to gains reaped a day earlier, when the Dow posted a new record. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.1%. Germany's DAX was advanced 0.6% to 7,919.33. France's CAC-40 was down 0.35%.
Japan's benchmark index reached a multi-year closing high, capping a day of positive trade in Asia. The Nikkei 225 jumped 2.1% to close at 11,932.27, the highest finish since September 2008.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1% to 22,777.84. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2% to 2,020.74. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.8% to 5,116.80. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and mainland China rose.
TUESDAY MARKETS: Stocks up, up and away
Analysts said markets were taking their cues from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who has overseen a campaign of massive bond-buying to support the world's biggest economy after the 2008 financial crisis. The issuance of bonds has pushed their prices down, steering investors toward stocks. The program known as "quantitative easing" is in its third phase, which is dubbed QE3.
"The lesson is clear. Don't bet on Capitol Hill. Bet on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke instead. To be sure, it was Bernanke's reassurance, as last week's congressional testimonies on monetary policy, to keep QE3 on its present course that turned a worried stock market into a record high," said analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore.
Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, said the new highs reached on Wall Street provided a psychological boost to investors but that such gains can go into reverse pretty quickly."From the big picture point of view, there is a lot of risk in either direction for the stock market at the moment," he said. "But we could quite easily continue rising, given how low interest rates are."
Benchmark oil for April delivery was down to about $90.39 cents per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 70 cents to close at $90.82 a barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday, hours after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose country sits on the world's second-largest oil reserves, after Saudi Arabia.
In currencies, the euro fell against the dollar to $1.2990 from $1.3040 Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to 94.0750 yen from 93.29 yen.
Contributing: USA TODAY's Kim Hjelmgaard, The Associated Press

Looking out for Number One while Drowning in Number Two.

Dog Poet Transmitting.......

May your noses always be cold and wet.

This is a time of great trial and turbulence. Dark doings are percolating beneath the false front of the unreal that overlays what is actually taking place. The unmitigated greed that permeates every level of our society and infrastructure, is a rank testimony to the schweinhunden and scheise kopfs, whose intents and activities, betray a self satisfied mendacity and arrogance that has been permitted free reign for so long that they unnaturally assume they have an imprimatur to do as they please. After all, no one is stopping them. Every time they want more at the expense of everyone else, they get it. We’ve gotten used to expect this kind of thing and a part of us has acquiesced to the inevitability of it all. We've given in, in the main. There are only an handful of outriders monitoring it all. We are encircled by wolves and there are too few guard dogs but it will prove enough because our ranks swell every day. Our ranks swell because they have made it impossible for people to continue to live under the weight of their oppression. The public has nowhere else to go, except for those getting rich off of it all and they have painted gigantic targets on their backs. That's as it should be.

The pending dangers are exemplifications of 'push and shove'. The bad guys and those deluded into following and mimicking them do not know when to stop. They have a strange form of buck fever that has gone viral. The microbes that manipulate them, into ever greater outrages, are conscious expressions of a poisoned bloodstream, nothing short of a full transfusion can help them now. It is important that we remember that they are diseased and, sooner or later, it is going to bring them down, as they fall victim to the terminal cancer they courted, for the temporary prosperity of their blinded self interest.

Things like this are happening at every level of the corporate to consumer realm and there is no end to the degree of squeeze. They will squeeze and squeeze, until the dry husk of the vampirized public crumbles to dust at the final squeeze. They are vampires. It may be different than the classical personification but everything in operation and application is exactly the same. This terrible insanity has found it's way into the lifestyles and behavior modalities of the population. It's some kind of variant on the Stockholm Syndrome. This is counterpointed by that vile aggregate of Christian Zionists who have been brainwashed to such a point that they are unreachable in terms of true reality. They are wandering in a vast and endless swamp, following will of the wisps and those strange lights, composed of swamp gas and air bourne madnesses. They are doomed and dreaming of a rapture that will not come. The Jesus Christ they believe in, is no more real than the one the atheists do not believe in. These times are fraught with chaos and confusion. They are generating betrayal and indifference, under the guise of self preservation and detachment. The house divided is falling in its parts to opposite sides. We have been effectively turned against one another because of horrible fear and uncertainty that is being generated from the darkling deep in the astral plane. Until these areas are emptied and the occupants destroyed, we will be routine victims when we continue to continue in our ignorance of them. Some of us know about it because we are being told on a regular basis. Some of us do not know because we refuse to listen.

We lost a true hero and man of the people yesterday.  He was murdered by the central bankers. This is not a viewpoint shared across the board by the majority of us. The majority of us are deep in delusion and this delusion comes out of the burning need for self preservation and the feeding of self interest. When one is able to aspire to the greatest good for the greatest number of people, one is set free of this delusion. Selfishness underlays the majority of our erroneous thinking. Somehow, people got the idea that the Ayn Rand template of, “greed is good” and 'look out for Number One' is the epitome of 'enlightened' self interest. From the cosmic viewpoint there is no such thing as enlightened self interest. A narrow perspective is just that. It's called moving through life with blinders on. It's exactly what happens to livestock, moving through the chutes to the killing floor. Most of us have things upside down and backwards and because this view is reflected in the eyes and minds of our compatriots on all sides, we believe that this is the natural and normal way to look at life. It's not.

It's the creatively mad and the generously inspired among us that make the real difference in life. It's ten percent of us that get everything done and the other ninety percent are bounced from pillar to post on their way somewhere in some kind of ring around the rosy Quo Vadis. That nightmare merry go round of birth and death. The tighter you hold your fears and insecurities to your breast, the harder you are clutching and milking your mortality like some venomous snake that is certain to bite like Cleopatra's asp. The harder the clutch, the more certainly you are doomed. The lighter your touch the more true freedom breathes from your every pore. You can argue these verities with me as you choose but I don't see you making much headway arguing with all of those who have said the same thing down through the millennium to today, people with a lot more cred and longevity than I have as yet, have been more than passing clear about it.

There are certain flashing neon certitudes that must come to pass. The central banks must go. The corporations must be brought to heel. The super rich must be made super poor and Israel must join the ranks of the never was nor shall be again. The back of organized crime must be broken. The churches must surrender their preposterous fantasies and Satanism must go back into the pit and the entrance and egress sealed. This must and will come to pass, along with the end to child sacrifice, sex trafficking and the despicable fly by night organ harvesting.

Outrageous turnabouts are occurring all over the planet but we are not given to view them, as they are concealed in the tsunami of bullshit that afflicts us all. I found out this morning that my domestic situation had reversed itself again, at least for the next six months when it comes under review once more. WTF? I did not expect that.

India changed me in ways that might not be apparent to the reader but are certainly apparent to my immediate environment. So... no matter what treacheries and dark plots I passed through, it was all for the best. I can't get over to what a degree the universe has my back and it has yours too. It's just a matter of recognition. Recognition is the firm grasp of an invisible hand, pulling us, each and everyone into the new dimensions of existence. Will we hold on with the opposite of dear life to the hole we have fallen into, or will we trust in what we cannot see to carry us into a promised destiny so long denied us?

It's your call. The cosmos can only meet you halfway. If you will not walk the distance you can only watch from across the unbridgeable gap. My best wishes to all of you, as we make our collective way into the brimming light of the coming golden age.

End Transmission.......

Investors' appetite for Apple sours

Analysts are unsure why Apple's stock has fallen 40% from its high and why its market value has dipped below $400 billion for the first time since January 2012.

 Apple stock slide continues

Apple stock fell $10.42, or 2.42%, to close Monday at $420.05. The firm’s market value dropped to $394.45 billion. Above, an Apple store in New York. (AFP/Getty Images, Timothy A. Clary / January 25, 2013)


What is ailing Apple?
There seems to be no simple answer as to why the tech giant's stock took another beating Monday, dragging the company's market value below $400 billion for the first time since January 2012.
It was the fourth straight day of decline, leaving Apple Inc. shares 40% below their high in September, when the stock was valued at more than $656 billion.
The carnage has left analysts and investors trying to guess whether there is a bottom in sight, and whether the company might have an announcement or new product in the pipeline that might ignite a rally.
The hottest of such rumors appears to be some kind of iWatch, with speculation emerging Monday that such a gadget could be rolled out this year. But short of such a lightning strike, it's hard to know how much further Apple's stock could fall.
"It's a combination of no new information coming out of the company about products or how the company is going to use its cash," said Walter Piecyk of BTIG Research. "It's left a void of catalysts for the stock."
On Monday, Apple's stock fell $10.42, or 2.42%, to close at $420.05. That means the company's market value, the number of shares outstanding multiplied by the share price, dropped to $394.45 billion.
Adding to the insult, Apple again lost its title as the world's most valuable company to Exxon Mobil Corp. The tech giant lost the title Jan. 25, 2012, before seizing it back the next trading day. Exxon was worth $400.45 billion when the market closed Monday.
There doesn't seem to be any single event that's putting pressure on the stock.
Last week, the company was blocked from allowing shareholders to vote on a controversial stock proposal after a lawsuit filed by a rebel shareholder. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook disappointed some investors by not announcing any plans to increase dividends or buy back more shares.
And a judge last week cut $450 million from a $1-billion verdict that Apple had been awarded in a patent litigation case against Samsung Electronics Co.
Piecyk also noted that Apple competitors will soon be announcing new products, including a new smartphone from rival Samsung, expected to be the Galaxy S IV. That could be making some investors nervous about how Apple's sales could be affected, he said.
Apple's stock closed Monday at its lowest point since Jan. 24, 2012, when its shares closed at $420.41. That occurred just before the company reported blowout earnings that day that sent its stock soaring.
That momentum carried the stock through much of 2012, on its way to peaking at $702.10 in September. The stock has not traded below $400 a share since Dec. 22, 2011, when it closed at $398.55.
There has been ongoing speculation for months about a new Apple product. Some guesses have focused on a possible Apple TV, while other pundits have pointed to a cheaper iPhone to help Apple better compete for customers in emerging markets.
But over the last several weeks, the speculation frenzy has turned its sights toward a possible Apple smartwatch. Although details are thin, the hope that Apple would make a gadget for the wrist has led to a growing consensus that this could be Apple's next market.
On Monday, Bloomberg quoted Citigroup Inc. analyst Oliver Chen as saying smartwatches might be more profitable for Apple than televisions, even if the overall size of the smartwatch market were smaller.
"This can be a $6-billion opportunity for Apple, with plenty of opportunity for upside if they create something totally new like they did with the iPod — something consumers didn't even know they needed," Chen told Bloomberg, which previously reported Apple had at least 100 people working on such a device.
Industry blog the Verge reported that the watch would run on iOS, the same mobile operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad. The Verge also said the device would be released this year, citing unnamed sources, and that company design guru Jony Ive was personally overseeing its development.

A Double Digit Correction On The Horizon? January Factory Orders Confirm Manufacturing Slump Continues, Eurozone Faces Worst GDP Contraction Since 2009. BofA: NYSE Margin Debt Is Generating A Sell Signal We Haven’t Seen In Three Years

Yet Another Funny Chart: January Factory Orders Confirm Manufacturing Slump Continues

Following the earlier laughable seasonally adjusted ADP data (because for some reason Mark Zandi does not find it necessary to supplement his report with the unadjusted data), courtesy of which the gullible public was supposed to believe that in February as small businesses were running out of money they proceeded to engage in a massive hiring spree, we thought: “hmmm: maybe there is a free lunch, and a drop in government spending however meager, will not manifest itself in economic data. Why, just look at the ADP…”
Alas, moments ago we got the January factory orders data, and our thought experiment was promptly terminated. The good news: the headline number posted a -2.0% drop in January, the biggest M/M drop in 5 month, which however beat expectations of an even more acute drop of -2.2%, which was driven by a collapse in defense and transportation orders, as spending cuts are finally felt through the supply chain. The bad news… well, we’ll let the chart below do the talking.

Worst Eurozone GDP Contraction Since 2009

Fourth-quarter drop in eurozone GDP confirmed as worst since 2009, contraction of 0.6% qoq – see
View image on Twitter
The worse-than-expected decline – the deepest since the first quarter of 2009 – was driven by GDP slumps in the bloc’s major economies, including a shock 0.6pc contraction in Germany and a 0.3pc fall in French output in the fourth quarter.

John Williams Exposes Government Lies | McAlvany Commentary

ACHUTHAN: Look At These Charts And Tell Me We’re Not In Recession

“You can begin to draw your own conclusions about the U.S. economy and if it is in recession.”

As it happened, in January 2013 there was a negative GDP print, consistent with our belief that the recession had begun around mid-2012.
Here we have a chart of year-over-year nominal GDP growth which, after last week’s revision of real GDP growth from -0.1% to 0.1%, is still down to 3.5%.
This chart begins in the early 1980s. Based on the full 65 years of historical data, nominal GDP growth below 3.7%, which is marked off by the horizontal line, has always occurred in a recessionary context – without exception.
This chart is consistent with a mild recession. Yet, we have all heard lots of commentary that we’re in a “2% economy” – not that great, but as long as the economy stayed above recessionary stall speed it would be okay.

BofA: NYSE Margin Debt Is Generating A Sell Signal We Haven’t Seen In Three Years

We’ve noted that margin debt at the NYSE has been rising steadily as stocks have advanced in recent months. Like the stock market, total margin is close to all-time highs.
BofA Merrill Lynch technical analyst Mary Ann Bartels writes in a note to clients that cash balances in those margin accounts have fallen to such a low level that they are now generating a sell signal not seen in three years.

The last time a sell signal was generated was on April 2010 and the S&P 500 subsequently corrected by 16% in two months. Net free credits for January were at a negative $77.2 million or cash balances are negative and the Z-Score indicates the cash draw down has been excessive. So a contrarian sell signal is given.

Athens police finds 4 bags with explosives after warning phone call

Greek police found four bags each containing small amounts of explosives in four different locations in the north of the city and after a warning phone call reached a newspaper.
According to Greek media reports, an anonymous caller called at 9:30 a.m. Eleftherotypia newspaper, claiming that four bombs would explode at 11 a.m. The caller named four locations: A Volkswagen representation, the yard of state broadcast company ERT (both on Mesogeion avenue), the tax office of Psychiko, and a branch of Greek telecommunication company OTE in Marathonas.
Strong police forces rushed to the four pointed spots evacuated the buildings. After the set time passed and no explosion occurred, explosive experts with the help of specialized dogs searched the areas and found the four bags.
According to To Vima, the bags containing small amounts of explosives however without fittings and wires.
“Each bag contained 200-300 gr of dynamite,” a reported told private Skai TV at 7 o’ clock news.
It looks as if it was more than one of the daily bomb-farces and that the perpetrators might wanted to check the reaction of police units.

France deserts the sinking ship of Europe

France deserts the sinking ship of Europe. 49565.jpeg
A few days ago the news emerged that France might be preparing to leave the EU. Marine Le Pen, head of "National Front" party, argues that France has no future in the EU, and if the country wants to develop further, it should seriously consider the option of self-navigation. Is this the case and what could France expect if it is no longer a member of the EU?
French Party "National Front" and its leader Marine Le Pen boldly declared their decision to withdraw France from the European Union. French policy has changed dramatically over the last few years. "National Front" is a party with 40 years of experience, and over this time its views have undergone radical changes. Why such a dramatic change in attitude and ideology in "National Front"?

Le Pen believes that, above all, the political and economic situation in the world has changed, and the country has entered an era of globalization, which, in turn, led to a drastic change in "National Front," one of the few parties that managed to perfectly adapt to the global environment. The party leader said that 25 years ago "National Front" was known as a strictly liberal party that did not share opposing political views.
Being liberal at the time meant advocating for the establishment of the market economy under the framework determined by the government. Now there are no permanent borders and frameworks. Due to these major changes the party, not to be lost on the margins of history, has transformed its views and turned to ultra-liberalism. Today, political views of "National Front" are clear.
Marine Le Pen advocates the creation of a strong and strategic state and establishment of an arbitrator state. Is it possible? What means would be good to achieve this goal? The answer may be quite ambiguous. First of all, the party leader stated her desire to radically change the country, but keep the previously established international relationships with many leading countries. Le Pen said that first the situation in the country had to be changed, and the politics, which is its integral part, had to be flexible and adjust.

The leader of "National Front" stated that, in her opinion, the European Union was already dead. Is this true and why, then, dozens of states still strive to become the EU's honorary members? Le Pen said that today's media deliberately ascribed the EU nonexistent benefits and achievements, saying that the European Union was alive and developing, but this is not true. Le Pen added that the established European currency was also dead, as well as the organization itself. He stated the need to keep up with the time, to notice the collapse of the European Union and be able to leave the sinking ship.
The leader of the French party talked about the attempts to save the euro at all costs. Le Pen does not want her people to follow the example of the Irish who were forced to reduce the minimum wage by 12 percent or drastically cut state family allowances and unemployment benefits. Lowering the generally accepted level of life is another step towards the abyss. If the currency needs to be saved at this price, the price of the people, it would be much more humane to simply get out of the EU and completely abandon the euro, said Le Pen.

In an interview with "Euronews" Le Pen said that Europe was quite capable of getting out of the situation, if it were to adhere to the previously established concepts. But today, Le Pen saw the future of Europe without France in the EU. She talked about the possibility of France's withdrawal from the European Union earlier, but had never called the exact date of the referendum. The head of the French opposition expressed the opinion of the "National Front" demanding from President Francois Hollande a referendum on the withdrawal of France from the EU.
Le Pen proposed a specific date for the referendum - January of 2014. Why this date? The choice is clear, as in January of 2014 the next elections to the European Parliament will be held, and this is when France should express its will to withdraw from the EU. Marine Le Pen did not choose the time for such an initiative by accident. Her words today have a great weight, as the crisis in the euro area is obvious, and the arguments of Euro-skeptics are now becoming increasingly more convincing.
The result of recent elections in the Italian Parliament won by populist politicians, including Beppe Grillo, who proposed a referendum on Italy's withdrawal from the euro zone, is another striking example of the changing situation in the EU. During a meeting of the "National Front" leadership on Saturday, Le Pen spoke about the inability of the government to solve domestic problems that largely stem from the EU. Whether her predictions about the collapse of the European Union are realistic is a big question, but there are definitely some doubts. In addition to sharp criticism of the official policy of Brussels in terms of the economy, Le Pen criticized border controls within the EU.
She believes that the forthcoming entry into the Schengen area of ​​Romania and Bulgaria will have very negative consequences for France. France's decision to significantly tighten its immigration policy may be jeopardized, and the opposition does not want it to happen. So far it is not clear whether Marine Le Pen will be successful in her initiative but, judging by her rapidly growing popularity, this is realistic. Through a broad eloquent advocacy of her political views, Le Pen has managed to perfectly strengthen the position of her party.
Thanks to a new wave of global economic crisis, at the presidential elections in France in the spring of 2012 she became a serious competition to the leaders of the election campaign - Socialist Francois Hollande and President Nicolas Sarkozy. In the following election to the National Assembly she managed to become a member of the French Parliament.
Le Pen is open about her mistrust of the French Government. In an interview with "Euronews" she said that withdrawal from the EU was the only sensible way out of this situation. It is difficult to say whether such a radical solution will stabilize the state of affairs in France. However, Le Figaro wrote that in many years such drastic political and economic measures have not been taken, and that this shake-up in the political life of France and the entire Europe can put everything in its place.
Sergei Vasilenkov