Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A National Debt Of $14 Trillion? Try $211 Trillion

When Standard & Poor's reduced the nation's credit rating from AAA to AA-plus, the United States suffered the first downgrade to its credit rating ever. S&P took this action despite the plan Congress passed this past week to raise the debt limit.
The downgrade, S&P said, "reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics."
It's those medium- and long-term debt problems that also worry economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, who served as a senior economist on President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. He says the national debt, which the U.S. Treasury has accounted at about $14 trillion, is just the tip of the iceberg.
"We have all these unofficial debts that are massive compared to the official debt," Kotlikoff tells David Greene, guest host of weekends on All Things Considered. "We're focused just on the official debt, so we're trying to balance the wrong books."
Kotlikoff explains that America's "unofficial" payment obligations — like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits — jack up the debt figure substantially.
Laurence J. Kotlikoff served as a senior economist on President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers and is a professor of economics at Boston University.
Laurence J. Kotlikoff served as a senior economist on President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers and is a professor of economics at Boston University.
Courtesy of Boston University

"If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $211 trillion. That's the fiscal gap," he says. "That's our true indebtedness."
We don't hear more about this enormous number, Kotlikoff says, because politicians have chosen their language carefully to keep most of the problem off the books.
"Why are these guys thinking about balancing the budget?" he says. "They should try and think about our long-term fiscal problems."
According to Kotlikoff, one of the biggest fiscal problems Congress should focus on is America's obligation to make Social Security payments to future generations of the elderly.
"We've got 78 million baby boomers who are poised to collect, in about 15 to 20 years, about $40,000 per person. Multiply 78 million by $40,000 — you're talking about more than $3 trillion a year just to give to a portion of the population," he says. "That's an enormous bill that's overhanging our heads, and Congress isn't focused on it."
"We've consistently done too little too late, looked too short-term, said the future would take care of itself, we'll deal with that tomorrow," he says. "Well, guess what? You can't keep putting off these problems."
To eliminate the fiscal gap, Kotlikoff says, the U.S. would have to have tax increases and spending reductions far beyond what's being negotiated right now in Washington.
"What you have to do is either immediately and permanently raise taxes by about two-thirds, or immediately and permanently cut every dollar of spending by 40 percent forever. The [Congressional Budget Office's] numbers say we have an absolutely enormous problem facing us."

The Detroit Bail-In Template: Fleecing Pensioners to Save the Banks

The Detroit bankruptcy is looking suspiciously like the bail-in template originated by the G20’s Financial Stability Board in 2011, which exploded on the scene in Cyprus in 2013 and is now becoming the model globally. In Cyprus, the depositors were “bailed in” (stripped of a major portion of their deposits) to re-capitalize the banks. In Detroit, it is the municipal workers who are being bailed in, stripped of a major portion of their pensions to save the banks.
Bank of America Corp. and UBS AG have been given priority over other bankruptcy claimants, meaning chiefly the pensioners, for payments due on interest rate swaps they entered into with the city. Interest rate swaps – the exchange of interest rate payments between counterparties – are sold by Wall Street banks as a form of insurance, something municipal governments “should” do to protect their loans from an unanticipated increase in rates. Unlike ordinary insurance, however, swaps are actually just bets; and if the municipality loses the bet, it can owe the house, and owe big. The swap casino is almost entirely unregulated, and it is a rigged game that the house virtually always wins. Interest rate swaps are based on the LIBOR rate, which has now been proven to be manipulated by the rate-setting banks; and they were a major contributor to Detroit’s bankruptcy.
Derivative claims are considered “secured” because the players must post collateral to play. They get not just priority but “super-priority” in bankruptcy, meaning they go first before all others, a deal pushed through by Wall Street in the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005. Meanwhile, the municipal workers, whose pensions are theoretically protected under the Michigan Constitution, are classified as “unsecured” claimants who will get the scraps after the secured creditors put in their claims. The banking casino, it seems, trumps even the state constitution. The banks win and the workers lose once again.
Systemically Dangerous Institutions Are Moved to the Head of the Line
The argument for the super-priority of derivative claims is that nonpayment on these bets represents a “systemic risk” to the financial scheme. Derivative bets are cross-collateralized and are so inextricably entwined in a $600-plus trillion house of cards that the whole financial scheme could go down if the betting scheme were to collapse. Instead of banning or regulating this very risky casino, Congress has been persuaded by the masterminds of Wall Street that it needs to be preserved at all costs.
The same tortured logic has been used to justify the fact that the federal government deigned to bail out Wall Street but not Detroit. Supposedly, the mega-banks pose a systemic risk and Detroit doesn’t. On July 29th, former Obama administration economist Jared Bernstein pursued this line of reasoning on his blog, writing:
[T]he correct motivation for federal bailouts — meaning some combination of managing a bankruptcy, paying off creditors (though often with a haircut), or providing liquidity in cases where that’s the issue as opposed to insolvency – is systemic risk. The failure of large, major banks, two out of the big three auto companies, the secondary market for housing – all of these pose unacceptably large risks to global financial markets, and thus the global economy, to a major industry, including its upstream and downstream suppliers, and to the national housing sector.
Because a) there’s not much of a case that Detroit is systemically connected in those ways, and b) Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code appears to provide an adequate way for it to deal with its insolvency, I don’t think anything like a large scale bailout is forthcoming.
Holding Main Street Hostage
Detroit’s bankruptcy poses no systemic risk to Wall Street and global financial markets. Fine. But it does pose a systemic risk to Main Street, local governments, and the contractual rights of pensioners. Credit rating agency Moody’s stated in a recent report that if Detroit manages to cut its pension obligations, other struggling cities could follow suit. The Detroit bankruptcy is establishing a template for wiping out government pensions everywhere. Chicago or New York could be next.
There is also the systemic risk posed to the municipal bond system. Bryce Hoffman,writing in The Detroit News on July 30th, warned:
Detroit’s bankruptcy threatens to change the rules of the municipal bond game and already is making it more expensive for the state’s other struggling towns and school districts to borrow money and fund big infrastructure projects.
In fact, one bond analyst told The Detroit News that he has spoken to major institutional investors who have already decided to stop, for now, buying any Michigan bonds.
The real concern of bond investors, says Hoffman, is not the default of Detroit but the precedent the city is setting. General obligation municipal bonds have always been viewed as a virtually risk-free investment. They are unsecured, but bondholders have considered themselves protected because the bonds are backed by the “unlimited taxing authority” of the government that issued them. Detroit, however, has shown that the city’s taxing authority is far from unlimited.  It already has the highest property taxes of any major city in the country, and it is bumping up against a ceiling imposed by the state constitution. If Detroit is able to cut its bond debt in half or more by defaulting, other distressed cities are liable to look very closely at following suit. Hoffman writes:
The bond market is warning that this will make Michigan a pariah state and raise borrowing costs — not just for Detroit and other troubled municipalities, but also for paragons of fiscal virtue such as Oakland and Livingston counties.
However, writes Hoffman:
Gov. Rick Snyder dismisses that threat and says the bond market is just trying to turn Detroit away from a radical solution that could become a model for other struggling cities across America.
A Safer, Saner, More Equitable Model
Interestingly, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Snyder’s Democratic opponent in the last gubernatorial race, proposed a solution that could have avoided either robbing the pensioners or scaring off the bondholders: a state-owned bank. If the state or the city had its own bank, it would not need to borrow from Wall Street, worry about interest rate swaps, or be beholden to the bond vigilantes. It could borrow from its own bank, which would leverage the local government’s capital into credit, back that credit with the deposits created by the government’s own revenues, and return the interest to the government as a dividend, following the ground-breaking model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.
There are other steps that need to be taken, and soon, to prevent a cascade of municipal bankruptcies.  The super-priority of derivatives in bankruptcy needs to be repealed, and the protections of Glass Steagall need to be restored. While we are waiting on a very dilatory Congress, however, state and local governments might consider protecting themselves and their revenues by setting up their own banks.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and its 2013 sequel, The Public Bank Solution. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com, and

Not lovin' it: Ninety per cent of McDonald's staff in UK are on zero-hour contracts

  • Terns mean employees agree to be available for work when it is required
  • Politicians tell chain to offer minimum guaranteed hours for 82,800 staff
  • Other food chains which use zero-hours contracts include Subway

  • McDonald's has admitted it employs 90 per cent of its staff in Britain on controversial zero-hours contracts.
    Zero-hours contracts are often critised because they do not offer guarantee work and a stable income. 
    Under the terms employees agree to be available for work as and when it is required.
    Contracts: Politicians have called for McDonald's to offer at least minimum guaranteed hours for the 82,800 people (file picture)
    Contracts: Politicians have called for McDonald's to offer at least minimum guaranteed hours for the 82,800 people (file picture)
    Politicians have called for the food chain to offer at least minimum guaranteed hours for the 82,800 people.
    Andy Sawford, a Labour MP who has campaigned to get rid of zero-hours contracts, told The Guardian: 'McDonald's could lead on addressing this issue.
    'There will be some employees working 20 to 30 hours a week, week in week out and it is indefensible not to put those people on contracts.'
    A spokesman said employees are asked during their application process to say which days they can work on and that although all hourly-paid members of staff are on the zero-hours contracts, they are still entitled to benefits. 
    McDonald's employs 92,000 members of staff in the UK and introduced the zero-hours contracts in 1974. 
    Other chains which use zero-hours contracts include Subway but it said its stores were independently owned and terms and conditions were set by the franchisees.
    Involved: A member of staff prepares food at a Subway, which also has franchises which give employees zero-hour contracts
    Involved: A member of staff prepares food at a Subway, which also has franchises which give employees zero-hour contracts
    Pret A Manger, on the other hand, said all of its staff are on a minimum of eight hours guaranteed a week.
    Earlier this week it was claimed one million workers may be on the contracts - four times as many as official estimates.
    'There will be some employees working 20 to 30 hours a week, week in week out and it is indefensible not to put those people on contracts'
    Andy Sawford, Labour MP
    The contracts, which are increasingly popular with employers, mean firms do not have to pay staff during quiet periods but keeps them available on short notice for when they are needed.
    Last week the Office for National Statistics reported that 250,000 people were on this type of contract at the end of 2012, which was a 50,000 rise in a year.
    But research suggests this is a massive underestimate, and that there is a hidden workforce who, in effect, have no guaranteed shifts or income – making childcare arrangements and planning finances almost impossible.
    According to a survey of 1,000 companies by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, one in five employed at least one person on a zero-hours contract – or a million workers if the results were applied across the country.

    Obama to Urge Congress to Shutter Fannie, Freddie

    Buoyed by an improving housing market, President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed a broad overhaul of the nation's mortgage finance system, including winding down government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He declared that taxpayers should never again be left "holding the bag" for the mortgage giants' bad bets.

    Obama outlined his proposals in Phoenix, the once foreclosure-riddled city at the epicenter of the nation's housing crisis. The housing market in Phoenix, as well as in many other parts of the country, has rebounded robustly, with prices in the southwestern city up 66 percent from the low point in 2011.

    Despite the nationwide gains, the president said sweeping housing reforms are still needed to ensure that a rejuvenated market doesn't simply "re-inflate the housing bubble." The cornerstone of that effort is winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a proposal with bipartisan support in the Senate.

    "For too long, these companies were allowed to make big profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag," Obama told a crowd of more than 2,000 at an area high school. He spoke following a tour of a construction company that has been able to hire hundreds of new workers as a result of the region's housing comeback.

    While the president has previously endorsed overhauling Fannie and Freddie, his remarks Tuesday marked the first time he outlined his specific proposals for doing so.

    The president wants to replace Fannie and Freddie with a system that would put the private sector, not the government, primarily at risk for loans. The government would still be involved, both in oversight and as a last-resort loan guarantor.

    Obama is also seeking guarantees that a private sector-led mortgage finance system would still ensure wide homeowner access to popular 30-year mortgages at fixed rates.

    Making light of criticism from Republicans who have cast him as a big-spending liberal, Obama joked that his calls for deeper private sector involvement "must sound confusing to the folks who call me a socialist."

    Obama's mortgage reform priorities are largely in line with a Senate measure shepherded by Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia that would wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac within five years. Corker said Obama's remarks were a sign of real and growing momentum behind efforts to shutter the mortgage giants.

    Once flourishing, Fannie and Freddie were bailed out in 2008 by a $187 billion taxpayer-backed bailout. The two enterprises don't make loans directly, but buy mortgages from lenders, package them as bonds, guarantee them against default and sell them to investors. The enterprises currently own or guarantee half of all U.S. mortgages and back nearly 90 percent of new ones.

    Obama's trip to Phoenix marked the latest stop on a summertime tour aimed at rallying the public around his economic policies ahead of looming budget fights with congressional Republicans this fall. It was also a return to the city he visited just weeks after taking office in 2009 to tout the government's role in bolstering the housing market.

    But some of Obama's housing proposals remain stalled in Congress, including sweeping refinancing legislation that would expand eligibility for homeowners who do not have government-backed mortgages. On Tuesday, he reiterated his calls for lawmakers to pass his refinancing proposals, saying they would help homeowners save thousands per year.

    The president also tried to link his housing proposals to immigration reform, his top second-term legislative priority. He argued that legal immigration would allow more people to purchase homes, thereby raising home values. White House officials also cited a study that showed immigrants accounted for 40 percent of new homeowners nationwide between 2000 and 2010.

    The nationwide housing recovery has been providing critical support to the economy at a time when manufacturing and business investment have stagnated. Steady job growth and low mortgage rates in the past year have also fueled more home sales. The increased demand, along with a tight supply of homes for sale, has pushed home prices higher and encouraged builders to start more homes and create more construction jobs.

    Seeking to highlight the broad impact of the housing market, Obama opened his stop in Phoenix with a tour of Erickson Construction, a company that makes building frames for homebuilders in three western states. The White House said the company's workforce has expanded from less than 100 employees at the depths of the recession to more than 580.

    Just two years ago, the region was in the throes of the worst housing collapse in the country, with prices down nearly 60 percent from their June 2006 peak and banks foreclosing on 70,000 homeowners a year. While the current median home price remains below peak, the levels have risen 66 percent from September 2011. Buyers are plentiful and homes for sale scarce, leading to bidding wars for resale homes.

    At the high school in Phoenix, students in the audience interrupted Obama with a rendition of "Happy Birthday;" the president turned 52 on Sunday.

    "I'm now 52, and Michelle says I don't look a day over 51," Obama quipped.

    © Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Peter Schiff: What's the pin that will prick this new bubble?

    DOJ files civil lawsuit against Bank of America over mortgage-backed securities, says bank defrauded investors who bought over $850M of mortgage loans… 29 separate law suits so far…

    DOJ files civil suit against Bank of America
    The U.S. government on Tuesday filed two civil lawsuits against Bank of America for what the Justice Department and securities regulators said was a fraud on investors involving $850 million of residential mortgage-backed securities.
    The Justice Department and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed the parallel suits in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, according to the court filings.
    Watch this and you will see…BoA has been giving people incentive to defraud people out of their mortgage and punishing people speaking out or questioning this practice. 29 separate law suits so far.

    Former Staffers: Bank Of America Rewarded Us For Lying To Homeowners, Losing Paperwork, Denying Modifications

    For its part, Bank of America claims that these statements are “rife with factual inaccuracies,” though it does not cite what those inaccuracies might be.
    “We continue to demonstrate our commitment to assisting customers who are at risk of foreclosure and, at best, these attorneys are painting a false picture of the bank’s practices and the dedication of our employees,” reads a statement from BofA to Reuters.
    These statements — which can all be read in their entirety at ProPublica — are part of a lawsuit filed by homeowners who were granted a trial modification, made all of their payments, but whose applications were not processed in a timely manner. A consolidation of 29 separate lawsuits from around the country, it is currently seeking class-action status.

    President Obama Mortgage Relief Plan 2013 Gives Another Boost to Making Home Affordable Programs

    The President Obama Mortgage Relief Plan Tries To Rescue The Last Of The Remaining Homeowners. There Are Still Many Financially Distressed Families Whose Homes Are Grossly Underwater. These People Have No Way To Get Any Financial Relief Because Lenders And Home Mortgage Financial Institutions Will Not Touch Them For Fear Of Losing Money.
    New York, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/23/2013 -- The president obama mortgage relief plan aims to provide the much needed financial relief for the homeowners with underwater homes. The financially distressed homeowners with houses underwater more than 125 per cent had little choice but to accept foreclosure or abandon their homes. This has led to more harm to the real estate values and prevents the economy from improving. The homeowners with home mortgage loans not of Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae could not take advantage of the earlier schemes proposed by the United States government under the making home affordable programs. These people can now do so with the latest program that is the home mortgage relief plan.

    Get Refinance Your Home With President Obama Mortgage Relief Plan 2013 Today

    The obama mortgage relief plan 2013 has announced an unexpected relief in most of the fees for home mortgage refinance. These could help millions of homeowners get their home mortgage refinance approved to give the much needed lift to the economy as well as the housing market. The latest 2013 relief plan proposes to help the borrowers save hundreds of thousands of dollars in a year through the new home mortgage refinance. The plan has promised to provide incentives to the lenders and mortgage handlers to extend the fee reductions. This can save the financially distressed families a lot of money over and above the benefits of the lower rates of interest.

    The President Obama Mortgage Relief Plan from the white house expects the plan to benefit 2 – 3 million financially distressed homeowners. The government expects hundreds of thousands of homeowners in the affected zones to participate in order to take the advantage of reduced monthly mortgage payments. This relief plan comes after all the earlier making home affordable programs with enhanced features to try and cure the ailing depression that has racked the United States housing market and the economy. There are still many pockets of geographical locations with increasing number of financially distressed homeowners facing the risk of foreclosures.

    The obama mortgage relief plan 2013 aims to help the millions of homeowners whose houses are worth much less than what they owe to the home mortgage financial institutions. The latest relief plan aims to take concrete steps to make a huge difference in the lives of financial distressed but responsible homeowners. The obama plan introduces the reductions in the home mortgage refinance fees to even help the Military personnel whose homes have faced wrongful foreclosures. The savings in the fees for the new home loan modification and home mortgage refinance will streamline the mortgage financial segment. The borrowers owing more principal on their mortgage than the current worth of their homes will be eligible to apply.

    The financially distressed homeowners with underwater homes that have been unable to get any financial relief so far are the ones most likely to benefits from the mortgage relief plan. The mortgage relief plan has done away with most of the fees and home appraisals that are no longer needed for home mortgage refinance.

    About specializes in all types of mortgages for obama mortgage relief plan 2013 and the obama home mortgage refinance, to help with low interest rate mortgage refinance, refinancing home mortgage with bad credit, and lowest fixed rate mortgage for borrowers willing to offer their homes as collateral. A team of attorneys work especially on mortgage underwriting to assure of the best loan terms. they will have no future surprises in form of penalty charges or fines if you understand them well before sign the mortgage.Visit

    Gunman arraigned, victims remembered in municipal building shooting

    The community of Ross Township gathered at a local church to remember the deceased in Monday night's shooting rampage.
    59-year-old Rockne Newell is charged with killing Chestnuthill Township Supervisor David Fleetwood, 53-year-old Gerard Kozic, and 64-year-old James LaGuardia.
    Kozic's wife, Linda, 61-year-old Frank Pirano Jr., and 55-year-old Township Supervisor Howard Beers were wounded in the mass shooting at the township building, where a monthly meeting was underway.

    Newell was arraigned via video Tuesday morning. He is charged with three counts of criminal homicide, two counts of attempted criminal homicide, and two counts of aggravated assault. At the arraignment, a judge asked if he owned any property, to which Newell responded: "No, they stole it from me. That's what started all this."
    Newell had been in a bitter fight with the township over his dilapidated property on Flyte Road.
    The township had recently condemned the property, and Newell was forced to move. State police say as Newell was taken into custody, he blurted out, "I wish I killed more of them."
    Newell's father, Pete Newell, says his son had been planning the rampage for some time and Newell allegedly told detectives he knew Monday night would be his only opportunity to get all the township officials in one place.
    The shooting happened around 7:20 p.m. Monday at the Ross Township municipal building in Saylorsburg, Monroe County. 15 to 18 people were inside for the monthly township supervisor meeting when the gunfire erupted.
    State police say Newell walked up to the front of the building and opened fire with a Ruger Mini-14 .223 caliber rifle. Bullets shot through a window, passed through an office and into the meeting room where the township supervisors meeting was being held. Newell then allegedly went to a side door and fired several additional rounds with the rifle into the meeting room before retreating from the door, firing more shots at the front door of the building. In all 28 rounds were shot from the rifle.
    Chris Reber, a reporter for The Pocono Record, was inside when shots rang out.
    "I ran out after the first round of shooting. I dropped to the floor. That's what everyone did. ... Then it stopped and I crawled out the side door," Reber told the newspaper. "I was the only person who crawled out. Everyone got behind a table. Some of the supervisors were over on the side throwing up."
    Newell then returned to the building after allegedly placing the rifle in his car and retrieving a .44 Magnum revolver.
    According to State Police, Newell entered the building through the front door and walked toward the meeting room. When he opened the door to the meeting room, he was tackled by West End Open Space Commission Executive Director Bernie Kozen and another man, identified as resident Mark Kresh. The men managed to wrestle Newell to the ground, all awhile he was allegedly firing the weapon. In the struggle Newell was shot in the leg with his own gun.
    While being transported to the hospital, investigators reported Newell said, "I wish I killed more of them."
    According to the affidavit, when investigators met with Newell at the hospital he said he specifically targeted the meeting because it was the only time he could get all of the township supervisors and the solicitor in a single location. He also said he planned to shoot the solicitor and the supervisors before taking his own life.
    Rep. Matt Cartwright, who represents the state's 17th District, said he was "stunned and appalled at the atrocities that claimed the lives of innocent citizens in Ross Township." He said he had heard about what Kozen did to prevent more bloodshed.
    "Mr. Kozen is a true hero tonight," Cartwright said in an emailed statement.
    A very emotional Kozen arrived back at the municipal building Tuesday morning. When asked to comment on the incident, he told Action News off camera, "I'm sorry. I just can't right now."
    Ross Township resident Henry McCormick said he knew Newell, and that he is not surprised by what happened.
    "You think about it like this - he thought about it all that time. And realistically speaking, I guess the way he's looking at it is, you done took everything away from me anyway so what do I have left," McCormick said.
    State police said Newell had a long-running dispute with township officials over his dilapidated property, located at 293 Flyte Road in Saylorsburg - just a short distance away from the municipal building. He said he lived on Social Security and could not afford to clean it.
    Newell's property includes an old camper in the front yard filled with wooden pallets, pieces of what appear to be old railroad ties and trash. A garage leans and appears close to collapse, and a propane tank sits inside an old dog house.
    Township supervisors voted in February 2012 to take legal action against Newell for violating zoning and sewer regulations, according to meeting minutes posted online.
    Last October, Newell set up a fundraising page online and was trying to raise $10,000 to pay for legal fees in his fight with the township.
    "Ross Township took me to court and the court ruled I have to vacate my home of 20 years," he wrote on the page called saveRockyshome. "I live on SSI which comes to $600 a month I have no money to clean it up."
    In June, the Pocono Record wrote a story about what it said was an 18-year fight between the township and Newell over his property.
    Monroe County Court sided with the township in August 2012 and ordered Newell to vacate and never again occupy or use the property unless he had the permits to do so. The report said Newell had been living out of a car, a 1984 Pontiac Fiero, and in abandoned buildings since being ordered to vacate.
    Newell told the paper he was unemployed for years after an injury from a crash and had nowhere else to go.
    "They have no right to kick me off my property," he told the newspaper. "They call my property an eyesore. When I bought it, it was one of only three properties on the entire road that didn't have what they call junk."
    Newell was treated at the hospital Monday night then released into police custody.
    State police are still investigating at the municipal building and are searching Newell's home. Investigators are also in the process of obtaining search warrants on a second property where it is believed Newell has been living.
    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
    (Copyright ©2013 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

    Terrorism, Distractions, Spying And The Removal Of The Peoples Rights

    The world is on edge because the US government agencies (NSA) have intercepted communications that there is a terrorist threat across the world. Meanwhile the government is trying to limit the rights of the people, the economy is doing worse and the all the calculated number, GDP, unemployment and inflation numbers are all fake. The government has shown unemployment has gone down but realistically the number of jobs increase is due to people falling off and the number of part times has increased.
    Another Looming Credit Crunch?
    Ten Times More Waiter And Bartender Than Manufacturing Jobs Added In 2013
    Full circle: Joblessness at 2008 level|finance|headline|headline|story&par=yahoo&doc=100933102|Full%20circle%20from%20the%20cris
    The Detroit Bail-In Template: Fleecing Pensioners to Save the Banks…(They Are Going To Take It All!!)

    Devastated Arizona Hotshot widow left to raise four children alone is DENIED lifetime benefits after city claims her husband was a 'seasonal' firefighter

    • Andrew Ashcraft, 29, died beside 18 of his 'Hotshot' comrades on June 30
    • He left behind his young wife, Juliann, and their four children, the youngest of whom is 18 months
    • Five weeks after the tragedy, Mrs Ashcraft has been denied the full lifetime benefits she was relying on to raise the couple's children
    • City of Prescott claims the Hotshot was one of 13 firefighters who were 'seasonal' workers
    • They say she is therefore only entitled to worker's compensation and a one off payment of $328,000
    • But Mr Ashcraft actually worked 40 hours a week all year round
    By Lydia Warren and Helen Pow

    A widow whose husband was killed courageously fighting a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona five weeks ago is being denied the lifetime benefits she was counting on to raise the couple's four young children alone.
    Juliann Ashcraft's husband, Andrew, was one of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighters who lost their lives when a fire they were battling suddenly changed direction and engulfed them.
    Mr Ashcraft, like his colleagues, was protecting the people of Yarnell when he died, tragically leaving his young family without a husband, father or income. But the city of Prescott, where the Hotshots were based, is now claiming he was a seasonal worker, despite him working a 40 hour week year round, and denying Mrs Ashcraft full benefits.
    Scroll down for video
    Confused: Juliann Ashcraft, pictured, is fighting with the city of Prescott for the benefits she is being denied

    Children: Mrs Ashcraft, pictured, was left to raise her four children alone

    'As shocked as I was that my husband went to work and never came home, I'm equally shocked in how the city has treated our family since then,' Mrs Ashcraft, whose youngest child is just 18 months old, told CBS News.
    All 19 Hotshot families will receive worker's compensation and a one-off federal payment of $328,000.
    But the city is refusing to pay Mrs Ashcraft her husband's lifetime salary and health benefits, which together are worth millions, because it insists he was among 13 of the squad who were seasonal employees rather than full-timers.
    Only six of the 19 firefighters are entitled to full-time benefits, the city claims.
    'I said to them, "My husband was a full-time employee, he went to work full-time for you,"' she said, 'and their response to me was, "Perhaps there was a communication issue in your marriage."'
    CBS News has seen paperwork showing Mr Ashcraft did infact earn a full-time salary as a firefighter for the city of Prescott. He was the only one of the 13 Hotshots denied full benefits who worked a 40 hour week through out the year.

    In love: Juliann, right, is pictured with Ashcraft in happier times
    In love: Juliann, right, is pictured with Andrew Ashcraft, left, in happier times
    Heartbreaking: Devastating photos show Andrew Ashcraft, one of 19 victims of Arizona wild fires, grinning from ear to ear as he proudly poses with his young family
    Heartbreaking: Not only was Juliann Ashcraft, pictured, devastated to lose her husband, she is now facing raising their four children without the benefits she is entitled to
    In a statement to CBS News, Prescott officials said the city had 'fully complied with all of the laws and employment polices that direct survivor benefits.'
    But Mrs Ashcraft, still mourning the loss of her 29-year-old hero, is desperate for help, as the costs associated with bringing up four children mount.
    'Quite literally, my bills are being paid by the good people of the world who are giving donations, because the city of Prescott isn't doing anything for us,' she told the TV station. 'Now I have four kids and myself, and I don't know what I'm going to do.
    'I want to be able to just be mourning my husband, be supporting my children, be figuring out what our new normal is.'
    The shocking treatment comes five weeks after the mother-of-four learned by watching the news that her firefighter husband had perished in the intense blaze that burned scores of homes to the ground.
    Just days after the men's deaths, Mrs Ashcraft revealed the last conversation she had with her husband - and her fears when he never responded to her text messages.
    Heartbroken: Juliann Ashcraft, wife of fallen firefighter Andrew Ashcraft, cries alongside her father Tom Ashcraft outside of the Granite Mountain Hotshot fire station in Prescott
    Heartbroken: Juliann Ashcraft, cries alongside her father Tom Ashcraft outside of the Granite Mountain Hotshot fire station in Prescott on Monday July 1
    Struggle: Juliann Ashcraft, the wife of Andrew Ashcraft, is comforted by a friend as she sits by the memorial
    Struggle: Juliann Ashcraft, left, will only get a one-off payment of $328,000 and workers' compensation

    Mrs Ashcraft sobbed as she recounted the bravery of her beloved husband and his close unit of highly-trained 'hotshot' colleagues, who were overcome by the ferocious flames in Yarnell.
    She said she had been texting her husband throughout the day - with him telling her how much he loved and missed her, and how proud he was of their young children - until he abruptly stopped.
    'I asked, "Will you be sleeping out there tonight?"' she told the Today show early last month as she struggled to hold back the tears. 'And of course there was no reply and they all laid out there that night.'
    She added that she had been sending him pictures of their children swimming that day, and how his daughter had commented that she wished he was there to see the thunder storm with them.
    He responded that he wished for that too. 'We could sure use some rain over here,' he said.
    Mr Ashcraft also sent his wife a picture of their view of the smoke and flames from his team's lunch spot on Sunday, and Juliann said that she was not particularly concerned when she saw it.

    Final moments: She shared the image he texted her before the 19 firefighters were killed by the flames
    Final moments: Mrs Ashcraft shared the final image Andrew Ashcraft texted her before the 19 firefighters were killed by the flames

    An honorary flagpole is shown at the site where the 19 firefighters died
    An honorary flagpole is shown at the site where the 19 firefighters died
    The devastation has been described as a 'moonscape' after an inferno so intense that only the metal part of one chain saw was found
    The devastation has been described as a 'moonscape' after an inferno so intense that only the metal part of one chain saw was found
    'It still did not look as catastrophic as it turned out to be,' she said. 'But he let us know that he loved us and missed us. Because of the dangers of the job, he would always tell us that he loved us.'
    Family photographs reveal a picture perfect family as Juliann and Andrew are seen grinning and kissing, as well as laughing along with their four young children.
    She told the Today show how, apart from his family, fighting fires with the Granite Mountain Hotshots was his life.
    'He was the most amazing man,' she said. 'The best person I know. A contagious smile, a heart of gold. That's why he did what he did, because he want to protect the community where he lived.'
    Of his team, she added: 'They loved what they did. These men lived together. They fought fires together. They died together - doing what they loved.'
    On July 1, the day after the men were killed, Mrs Ashcraft was pictured distraught at a makeshift memorial in Prescott for the fallen firefighters. She said she learned of her husband's death while watching the news with their four children.
    'They died heroes,' she told as she wept. 'And we'll miss them. We love them.'
    Prescott High School physical education teacher and coach Lou Beneitone taught many of the Hotshots, and remembered Ashcraft as a fitness-oriented student.
    'He had some athletic ability in him and he was a go-getter, too. You could pretty much see, from young freshman all the way, he was going to be physically active.'
    Engulfed: 19 firefighters died as the wildfire spread near the Arizona town of Yarnell
    Engulfed: 19 firefighters died as the wildfire spread near the Arizona town of Yarnell
    Beneitone said athletic prowess was a must for the Hotshots. 'That's what it takes. You gotta be very physically fit, and you gotta like it, gotta like the hard work.'
    Ashcraft, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was honored to be a member of the Hotshot crew, and 'he just had a really sweet spirit about him,' Elise Smith, a Prescott, Arizona, resident, told The Deseret News of Salt Lake City.

    As the bodies of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were recovered, it emerged that the team's 20th member survived as he was moving the crew's truck when the flames overcame his comrades.
    Helicopters had been unable to reach the highly-trained men as they fought the flames in Yarnell and they could not be saved by their emergency shelters - tent-like structures meant to shield them from flames and heat.
    When they were found on Sunday, all 19 shelters were deployed but some of the men's bodies were inside their individual shelters, while others were outside - indicating just how suddenly they were overcome by the flames.
    'It had to be a perfect storm in order for this to happen,' Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward told the Today show last month.
    President Obama called the firefighters heroes and highly skilled professionals who 'put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet.'
    The highly-skilled team was overtaken by a fast-moving blaze stoked by hot winds on Sunday.
    The fire was sparked by a lightning strike on Friday and spread to at least 8,400 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions.
    Death toll: The Yarnell wildfire is the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years
    Death toll: The Yarnell wildfire is the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years
    The fire has also destroyed an estimated 200 homes. Dry grass near the communities of Yarnell and Glen Isla fed the fast-moving blaze.
    It was unclear exactly how the crew became trapped. Southwest incident team leader Clay Templin said the team and its commanders were following safety protocols, but it appears the fire's erratic nature simply overwhelmed them.
    At the time, Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said the 19 firefighters were a part of the city's fire department. With their deaths, the department lost 20 per cent of its members.
    'We grieve for the family. We grieve for the department. We grieve for the city,' he said at a news conference on June 30. 'We're devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you'll ever meet.'
    Hot shot crews are elite firefighters who often hike for miles into the wilderness with chain saws and backpacks filled with heavy gear to build lines of protection between people and fires.
    They remove brush, trees and anything that might burn in the direction of homes and cities.
    The crew killed in the blaze had been working on other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona, Fraijo said.

    Mexico Silver Production Down a Stunning 10%

    The largest silver producing country in the world has seen its production decline substantially in the first five months of the year.  Mexico was forecast to increase its silver production this year, however if present trends continue, total output could fall nearly 10% in 2013.

    From The SRSRocco Report:
    If we take a look at the last two latest reports coming from Mexico’s INEGI, we can see that the majority of the declines have come from Zacatecas  — the richest silver region in the country.
    Mexico April 2013
    (Plata = silver & oro = gold: figures shown in kilograms)
    In April, overall silver production in Mexico was down 10.3% y.o.y, whereas output from Zacatecas fell 21.6%.  Even though the drop in production in May was not as severe as in April, total silver production declined 9.1%.
    Mexico May 2013 Production
    Total silver production in Mexico from Jan-May was 2,062 tonnes down from 2,288 tonnes in 2012 — a difference of 226 tonnes or 9.7%.  Again, the majority of the declines in silver production came from the state of Zacatecas in Mexico where Fresnillo and Goldcorp’s Penasquito mines are located.
    These two mines accounted for 50 million oz of silver production in 2012.  According to their 2013 half-year reports, silver production at Fresnillo was down 2.2 million ounces and Penasquito declined 2.5 million oz compared to the same period last year.  Thus, approximately 55% of the total decline in Mexico’s silver production so far this year has come from these two mines.
    The reason attributed to the drop in silver production at Fresnillo and Penasquito was due to falling ore grades, however Penasquito had additional problems with water availability in treating its ore.

    The Reliability of Silver Statistics

    Part of the problem in obtaining data in the mining industry are the discrepancies in reported figures from the different official sources.  The main sources are the World Silver Survey by GFMS Thomson Reuters and the Silver Yearbook by the CPM Group (Jeff Christian’s organization)
    According to the 2013 World Silver Survey, Mexico’s total silver production was 162.2 million oz., whereas CPM Group’s 2013 Silver Yearbook came in at 136.6 million oz.  How could there be such a huge difference between these two sources?
    Well, I have corresponding with some of the folks who put together the World Silver Survey and I believe their figures are more credible than the CPM Group. The production figures from the World Silver Survey come directly from many of the different countries official government sources.
    For instance, Canada’s Dept. of Natural Resources stated that total silver production in 2012 was 666.2 tonnes which translates to 21.4 million oz — nearly the same total in the 2013 World Silver Survey.  Furthermore, Mexico’s INEGI data for 2011 stated that Mexico produced 4777 tonnes of silver which is 156.3 million oz… the same figure shown in the World Silver Survey:
    2013 World Silver Production
    So, if silver production from Mexico continues to decline at its present trend, overall global production in 2013 may be lower than in 2012.  It is estimated that China’s total silver production is forecasted to increase 5% this year, however this may not be enough to offset the declines coming out of Mexico.
    Lastly, if silver prices remain below $20, it is highly likely that more primary silver miners will be forced to put their high cost mines on care & maintenance until prices recover.  U.S. Silver already announced they were cutting a third of their staff and Alexco Resources is planning to put their only commercially producing mine (Bellekeno) on care and maintenance in the winter, hoping prices will recover in 2014.
    If more companies elect to shut down their marginal mines until prices recover, we could see overall silver production to decline even further in 2013-2014.

    How Much Will PRISM Cost the U.S. Cloud Computing Industry?

    The United States has been the leader in providing cloud computing services not just domestically, but also abroad where it dominates every segment of the market. Recent revelations about the extent to which the NSA obtains electronic data from third-parties will likely have an immediate and lasting impact on the competitiveness of the U.S. cloud computing industry if foreign customers decide the risks of storing data with a U.S. company outweigh the benefits. Unless the White House or Congress acts soon, the U.S. cloud computing industry stands to lose $22 to $35 billion over the next three years.

    US debt six times greater than declared – study

    Reuters / Kim Hong-JiRT News
    The United States has accumulated over $70 trillion in unreported debt, an amount nearly six times the declared figure, according to a new study by University of California-San Diego economics Professor James Hamilton.
    The unique aspect of Hamilton’s study  is that he examines federal debt that has not been publicly released, specifically the government’s support for “housing, other loan guarantees, deposit insurance, actions taken by the Federal Reserve, and government trust funds.”   
    Since the global economy hit rock bottom in 2008, US federal debt has gone through the roof, increasing from $5 trillion to an estimated $12 trillion in 2013. Meeting the interest payments alone on that debt burden presents a formidable challenge for US taxpayers: In addition to the debt, Americans must pay back around $220 billion annually just in interest.
    And with interest rates set to rise from their historic lows, Americans will be confronted with a significantly higher bill in the future. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office anticipates that net interest expense on US federal debt will exceed the entire defense budget by 2021.
    This fiscal horror story playing out across America, however, is actually much worse than publicly recognized.
    Much of the current debt load is a direct result of the Great Recession of 2008, which saw an unprecedented effort on the part of Washington to rescue the US economy from financial ruin.
    This led to a series of controversial operations on the part of the US Federal Reserve known as“quantitative easing” or “large-scale asset purchases.” The aim of these programs was that by buying long-term securities, the Fed would be able to lower the long-term interest rate, encourage investment and get the economy rolling again.
    According to Hamilton, “the net effect of the Fed’s emergency lending between 2006 and 2008 was to increase the net indebtedness of the federal government by over a trillion dollars, balanced by acquisition of corresponding assets (the emergency loans).”

    The real shocker in the report, however, came with the cost of Medicare and Social Security, which ran at $27.6 trillion and $26.5 trillion respectively.
    Hamilton could not conceal his surprise at the findings.
    “These numbers are so huge it is hard even to discuss them in a coherent way,” he said before providing a caveat on the US demographic situation. “The US population is aging, and an aging population means fewer people paying in and more people expecting benefits. This reality is unambiguously going to be a key constraint on the sustainability of fiscal policy for the United States.
    “One would think we should be saving as a nation today as preparation for retirement, and if in fact we are not, the current enormous on-balance-sheet federal debt is all the more of a concern.”
    It is not just the sick and elderly, however, who are adding to the US debt burden. Government loans for students also featured high in the report.
    The US Department of Education approved $714 billion at the end of 2012, which is a significant jump from the $104 billion issued at the end of 2007.  But with the US economy failing to generate new jobs, many of these now college graduates lack the financial means to return their debt.
    Although the report paints an extremely worrisome picture of America’s fiscal situation, some say it may actually be overly optimistic.
    The US debt burden is much greater says Boston University economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, who served on President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers.
    “If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $211 trillion. That’s the fiscal gap,” Kotlikoff said in an interview with National Public Radio. “That’s our true indebtedness.”

    According to the US National Debt Clock, the US government has a $16.8 trillion debt, which comes out to be over $53,000 for each US citizen. Looking at those steadily accumulating numbers, it is difficult to see how the US will square the circle of a steadily-aging population together with the harsh reality of the modern economy.
    Robert Bridge is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, which examines the dangerous consequences of excessive corporate power in the United States.

    Author Learsy: 'Price of Oil Is Rigged'

    "The price of oil is rigged," alleges author and former trader Raymond Learsy.

    Prices for most other commodities have dropped and there's a bountiful supply, Learsy writes in an article for The Huffington Post. U.S. commercial crude inventories are near all-time highs, domestic oil production is about a million barrels a day higher than it was last year, weekly gasoline inventory is up substantially and Chinese demand is flat or down.

    So why has the price of oil increased 9.5 percent in the last month? Because of manipulation by speculative traders, Learsy argues.

    Editor’s Note:
    Obama Blunder Spawns Massive Profit Opportunity

    There is an utter lack of transparency oil trading on the commodity exchanges, writes Learsy, author of "Ruminations on the Distortion of Oil Prices and Crony Capitalism."

    "We don't know who is taking positions and for whose account. Are the oil companies themselves directly or indirectly, or the sovereign wealth funds of oil-producing nations with their billions upon billions of investable capital pushing up prices by buying oil derivatives?"

    Trading in oil derivatives has "exploded exponentially," he says, pointing out that paper barrel contracts dwarf actual oil production 30-to-1.

    American consumers pay a "speculative premium" that inflates the price of gasoline and other oil products and wipes away the economics of supply and demand, he explains.

    Over 80 percent of oil and energy trading on commodity exchanges is speculative trading by players not involved in actual oil production or consumption, including investment banks like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

    Regulators lack any meaningful oversight of oil speculation. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has been holding hearings and taking public comments, but has yet to take any substantive action.

    With its growing production of shale oil and natural gas, the United States is approaching energy independence, Learsy says. The United States has over 700 million barrels of oil in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a cushion against sharply rising prices.

    "Given today's aberrant prices it would be a stroke of courageous public policy for the Energy Department to announce the release of 100 million barrels from the reserve to counter what is clearly an artificial and bloated price of oil," Learsy argues. "The speculators and manipulators would be sent running to the hills while the American consumer would for once have something to celebrate."

    European Union officials raided the offices of three oil companies earlier this year as part of an investigation into price rigging. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) then opened a similar investigation, Bloomberg reported. An investigation by the FTC rather than the Justice Department indicates regulators do not suspect criminal activity, according to Bloomberg.

    Editor’s Note: Obama Blunder Spawns Massive Profit Opportunity

    © 2013 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

    ALERT! Rothschild Dynasty Merging French & UK Banks Before “Fallout of Financial Crisis”!

    EYES OPEN ! He says himself , this is a defense move before the Fallout of Financial Breakdown!

    Spending power in UK sets record fall

    An analysis of the figures compiled by the House of Commons library shows working British™s spending power has been cut more than any other country in the Group of Seven (G7) developed nations, local media reported.
    The opposition Labour Party analysis found that workers would have an income of £1,520 lower in real terms in 2015 as compared to what they earned in 2010. This means that working British will have lost £6,660 by the time of the next election, taking into account inflation.
    According to figures provided by Office for National Statistics (ONS) and analyzed by shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie œthe amount of money working people will have lost in real terms under coalition rule would be enough to pay for the average family weekly shop for a year-and-a-half”.
    Figures showed spending power under coalition government™s rule has fallen in every month but one as price rises outstrip wage increases.
    This means Prime Minister David Cameron™s record of 35 consecutive months of falling real wages is worse than any other Prime Minister on record.
    Former premier James Callaghan is the only PM on record to have overseen more than a year of constantly falling real wages, apart from Cameron.
    “I thought it (living standards) would be worth looking at if we’re starting to focus on that 2015 election period and people are starting to evaluate ‘well what will David Cameron’s legacy be for me?’ It is a reduction in real wages over that period of £6,660 which for a lot of people will resonate. It is a significant, serious amount of money”, said Leslie, shadow financial secretary to the Treasury.
    “That’s enough to pay for the average family weekly shop for almost a year-and-a-half, it’s enough to get a new car, albeit quite a small one at a stretch, but it’s quite a significant sum of money”, he added.
    “David Cameron will go down in history as a disastrous Prime Minister for people’s living standards. He is totally out of touch, his economic policies have failed and the result is working families are massively out of pocket”, Leslie noted.
    …read more
    Republished from: Press TV

    Nikkei leads Asian stocks lower; dollar dips

    By Ian Chua
    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian stocks fell to their lowest in a month on Wednesday following further losses on Wall Street, with the Nikkei suffering a late bout of selling as the dollar briefly slid below 97 yen for the first time in six weeks.
    MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> shed 1.3 percent to its lowest since July 11, and Tokyo's Nikkei (NIK:^9452) skidded 4 percent to its lowest close this month.
    Major European bourses were seen tracking Asian markets lower with financial spread betters expecting opening losses of between 0.2 to 0.5 percent, while U.S. stock futures also pointed to another weak opening.
    Exporters such as Toyota Corp were hit hard as investors worried that a stronger Japanese currency would erode their dollar earnings when repatriated.
    Analysts also suspected selling related to the looming settlement of some equity options.
    "Hedge funds, like commodity trading advisors, are shorting through some of the European brokerages," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
    "They could also be selling index heavyweights to lower futures prices before the Nikkei 225 options settlement on Friday."
    Other Asian markets also felt the heat, with Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) ending 1.9 percent lower, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng (.HSI) dipped 0.9 percent.
    The soggy performance on Asian bourses came after the U.S. S&P 500 index (.SPX) fell 0.6 percent, partly on uncertainty about when the Federal Reserve will begin to scale back its stimulus.
    Investors keen for clarity on the timing of the Fed's plan were left sorely disappointed after comments from two top Federal Reserve officials shed no new light.
    This uncertainty coupled with thin trading conditions and a lack of fresh impetus conspired to keep the greenback pinned down against a basket of major currencies.
    The dollar index (.DXY) held near a one-week low as the greenback slid to 96.98 yen, a level last seen on June 25. The euro, while flat on the day at $1.3306, remained near a one-week high around $1.3323.
    Joseph Capurso, currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank, said dollar/yen is still stuck in a consolidation phase since its huge rally from 78 yen to 103 fizzled in mid-May.
    "It is perfectly normal for a currency pair to enter a consolidation phase after enjoying a large one-way move," he said. "When the consolidation phase ends, we expect USD/JPY to resume its uptrend."
    Commodities were also struggling in dull summer trade, with gold extending losses into a third session as it fell to three-week low of $1,273.14 an ounce.
    Copper slipped 0.6 percent to $6,963 a ton, erasing all the gains it made on Tuesday, while U.S. crude was little changed near $105 a barrel.
    The next key focus for markets is the Bank of England's quarterly economic forecasts at 0930 GMT (5:30 a.m. EDT) and the first news conference by new Governor Mark Carney, at which he is expected to assure markets that it will keep interest rates at rock-bottom levels for an extended period.
    On Thursday, the Bank of Japan will announce the outcome of its two-day policy review, and is widely expected to press on with its massive asset-buying program.
    Recent data showed the world's third-biggest economy is starting to stir thanks to the BOJ's unprecedented quantitative easing push and government fiscal stimulus.
    Also on Thursday China will post July trade data which analysts expect will show initial signs of stabilization in the economy.
    (Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by John Mair & Kim Coghill)

    Stat of the Day: US Has Enough Empty Houses to Hold All of Britain

    100 Abandoned Houses: Photographs of DetroitPaul Kedrosky crunches numbers from Bloomberg and makes them far more astounding:
    According to the latest data, the number of vacant U.S. homes touched 18.7-million in the second quarter. That is a daunting figure, of course, but it is more fun to put it in context. Assuming four people per household, the U.S. currently has enough surplus housing to put the entire population of the U.K., with room left over for Israel.
    via Odograph

    Woman tricked into buying 2 actual apples she thought were iPhones

    Apple (Getty)

    There are apples, the fruit, and Apple iPhones, and usually it’s pretty easy to tell the difference.
    Unfortunately, an Australian woman caught up in a scam ended up paying $1,200 for two pieces of fruit.
    The crime of produce happened on a Website called Gumtree. According to the Herald Sun, the 21-year-old scam victim placed an ad asking if anyone had an iPhone for sale.
    She got a response from another woman who said she could sell her two. The two met at a McDonald’s where the buyer handed the seller $1,200 and was handed two “iPhone boxes that looked new.” The woman didn’t check to see what was inside.
    She finally looked once she got home, and found fruit, not phones, inside.
    Police from the Queensland town of Upper Mount Gravatt, near Brisbane, pointed out that people should be “wary” when buying online.
    "Don't stay away, because most people are doing the right thing, but be smart about what you buy," Senior Constable Jess Hopkin told the Herald Sun.
    Commenters on the Web were less kind. Andrew Perrott wrote on the Independent, “The sheer stupidity of some people defies belief.”
    Marcin Karpinski added, “Nowadays, phones are smarter and more intelligent than their owners.”
    A third offered, “ I have an Xbox box for sale.”

    Ex-banker shot over RM100m land deal gone sour

     Ex-banker shot over RM100m land deal gone sour

    KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — A  prime land deal worth more than RM100 million in Lorong Ceylon belonging to the Kuan Yin temple is believed to be  behind the assassination of former banker Ahmad Hussain Najadi.
    The land where the temple stands includes, and is surrounded by, a 100-lot carpark, foodstalls and the temple itself.
    Negotiations for the sale of the land had been going on since late March.
    Two women, aged 61 and 47, believed to be the temple trustees and partial owners of the land, were detained by city police on Monday afternoon in the temple compound.
    Both the women were also in the temple compound when Hussein was gunned down by a hitman.
    Police believe the two women played an integral part in negotiating the land deal.
    City CID chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah said the duo are expected to shed more light into the high-profile case.
    ”We believe the murder may have been caused by the land deal going sour,” he said.
    He said Hussain was not a buyer and was merely overseeing the deal as an observer or adviser as his wife, Cheong Mei Kuan, was a regular visitor to the temple.
    Hussain and Cheong had met with a man over the land deal on July 29. After the meeting, they spent a few minutes in the temple before walking to the carpark. He was gunned down by the killer, who was waiting for him there.
    Ku said the man the couple met was apparently interested to buy another piece of land nearby, which also belongs to the temple.
    Police have recorded the statement of a man who claims to be a Datuk.
    Police reaffirmed that the hitman was believed to be paid about RM20,000.
    Ku said police had detained a 42-year-old man on Monday, who was believed to be with the shooter during the incident.
    Police had gone to his house at an undisclosed location in Selangor but he was not there. However, he surrendered himself at the KL police headquarters at 10pm.
    ”We have begun interrogations. We have detained him as he was with the shooter during the incident and is also wanted for a cheating case,” he said.
    Police have also established the identity of the shooter — Kong Swee Kwan, 44, — who  has two criminal records for possession of stolen goods and extortion.
    Ku issued a warning to the shooter, saying, “you better surrender”.
    The remand order on the taxi driver who was detained a day after the shooting has been extended by another week.

    Singapore's Lee says he wants a quick death

    Singapore's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew attends the Standard Chartered Forum in Singapore on March 20, 2013

    Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who will turn 90 next month, said in a new book published Tuesday that he feels weaker by the day and wants a quick death.
    "Some time back, I had an Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) done which says that if I have to be fed by a tube, and it is unlikely that I would ever be able to recover and walk about, my doctors are to remove the tube and allow me to make a quick exit," he wrote in the book "One Man's View of the World".
    The book is dedicated to the Asian statesman's views on international affairs but an entire chapter contains his musings on death, religion and other personal issues. The 400-page work is dedicated to his late wife Kwa Geok Choo, whose death in 2010 shattered the normally stoic veteran politician.
    Lee has visibly weakened since then and revealed in the book that despite daily exercise and a disciplined lifestyle, "with every passing day I am physically less energetic and less active."
    "There is an end to everything and I want mine to come as quickly and painlessly as possible, not with me incapacitated, half in coma in bed and with a tube going into my nostrils and down to my stomach," he wrote.
    Lee, a British-trained lawyer who served as Singapore's prime minister for three decades and turned it into a high-tech industrial and financial centre, expressed his blunt views on religion in the book.
    "I wouldn't call myself an atheist. I neither deny nor accept that there is a God," he said.
    "So I do not laugh at people who believe in God. But I do not necessarily believe in God -- nor deny that there could be one."
    Asked where he drew comfort from if not from religion, he said: "It is the end of any aches and pains and suffering. So I hope the end will come quickly."
    Elsewhere in the book, Lee addressed what he considers the biggest long-term threat to Singapore -- its low birth rate -- and rejected as "absurd" suggestions that his population programme in the 1970s urging couple to stop at two children contributed to the current situation.
    Despite a slew of so-called "baby bonuses" to encourage couples to have children, Singapore's total fertility rate last year stood at 1.20 children per woman, far below the 2.1 needed to maintain the native-born population.
    Lee, who retired from politics in 2011, blamed Singaporeans' changing lifestyles for the problem and said monetary incentives would only have a "marginal effect" on it.
    "I have given the job to another generation of leaders. Hopefully, they or their successors will eventually find a way out," said Lee, who handed power to his deputy Goh Chok Tong in 1990 after 31 years in office.
    Lee's son, Lee Hsien Loong, is now prime minister after succeeding Goh in 2004.
    Singapore's low birth rate has forced the government to open the country to foreigners, who now comprise a third of the population.
    The influx, however, has sparked protests from citizens and prompted the government to tighten immigration flows in recent years.
    Lee pointed to the example of Japan, which he said is on a "stroll into mediocrity" as the ranks of its elderly swell due to young couples not producing enough babies.
    Japan's reluctance to open up to immigrants will further lead to its decline, he said.
    "If I were a young Japanese and I could speak English, I would probably choose to emigrate," said Lee.

    Impending Economic Crisis: Bond Market Is Going To Implode In The Beginning of Q4 2013 As Basel III Goes Into Effect!!! The Economy And Stocks Makes Almost No Sense!!!

    Yields have been steadily moving up since Q1, had some big volatility in May and June, but they pumped some more in…it will begin when Basel III goes into effect in Europe and the USA, the beginning of Q4 2013…

    The yield on the 30-year bond created a bullish inverse head & shoulders, suggesting rates should rise quickly....and they have over the past 90-days.
    More QE Would Be Repeating The Same Thing And Expecting Different Results

    Basel III is going to force the Mega-Banks to increase their capital reserves, but as the Fed begins to taper off the purchases of Mortgage Backed Securities, the banks will be forced to sell Treasuries they’ve accumulated from the Feds purchases of MBS for cash…
    Basel III is scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of Q4…
    We could well begin to see some violent moves in the markets even here in August as banks try to position themselves for the regs, hence Duetche Bank’s deleveraging lately, so yes, September, October…
    We’ll see the headlights in the tunnel by the end of the year for sure…
    Basel III: How The Bank For International Settlements Is Going To Help Bring Down The Global Economy
    The new set of regulations is known as “Basel III”, and it was developed by the Bank for International Settlements.  The Bank for International Settlements has been called “the central bank for central banks”, and it is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland.  58 major central banks (including the Federal Reserve) belong to the Bank for International Settlements, and the decisions made in Basel often have more of an impact on the direction of the global economy than anything the president of the United States or the U.S. Congress are doing.  All you have to do is to look back at the last financial crisis to see an example of this.  Basel II and Basel 2.5 played a major role in precipitating the subprime mortgage meltdown.  Now a new set of regulations known as “Basel III” are being rolled out.  The implementation of these new regulations is beginning this year, and they will be completely phased in by 2019.  These new regulations dramatically increase capital requirements and significantly restrict the use of leverage.  Those certainly sound like good goals, the problem is that the entire global financial system is based on credit at this point, and these new regulations are going to substantially reduce the flow of credit.  The only way that the giant debt bubble that we are all living in can continue to persist is if it continues to expand.  By restricting the flow of credit, these new regulations threaten to burst the debt bubble and bring down the entire global economy.
    Banks May Face Extra Basel Capital Rules for Interest Rate Risks
    Global regulators may force banks to hold more capital to guard against the risk that they may lose money from changes in interest rates, Stefan Ingves, chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, said today.
    Authorities will examine “the need for a capital framework for interest rate risk” on assets that lenders plan to hold to maturity, Ingves said in prepared remarks for a speech in Basel, Switzerland today. Such a move may improve consistency with capital rules on assets banks intend to trade, Ingves said.
    And as the chart below shows, mortgage rates have a lot more room to go up…
    30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Average in the United States
    As mortgage rates go up, so do monthly payments.
    And monthly payments are already beginning to soar.  Just check outthis chart.
    So what happens if mortgage rates eventually return to “normal” levels?
    Well, it would be absolutely devastating to the housing market.  As mortgage rates rise, less people will be able to afford to buy homes at current prices.  This will force home prices down.
    To a large degree, whether or not someone can afford to buy a particular home is determined by interest rates.  The following numbers come from one of my previous articles
    A year ago, the 30 year rate was sitting at 3.66 percent.  The monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate would be $1374.07.
    If the 30 year rate rises to 8 percent, the monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate would be $2201.29.
    Does 8 percent sound crazy to you?
    It shouldn’t.  8 percent was considered to be normal back in the year 2000.
    Fisher Warns Feral Hogs: “Don’t Rely On Fed Put”
    “Financial markets may have become too acustomed to what some have depicted as a Fed put,” Dallas Fed’s Fisher warns, causing “serious misallocations of capital.”
    Once again, the non-voting ‘feral hog’ caller is a voice of some reason amid the calls for moar…
    Treasury Sell-Offs In Context, And Why There Is Much More Room To Fall
    While many people doubted early in the year that a 1994-style sell off in the Treasury bond complex is inconceivable, this is precisely what we got in the two months between May and July, as we showed previously.

    But while the bond rout of 1994 is merely one example of a rapid Treasury selloff, there are many more, and many that put both 1994 and the (first?) great bond dump of 2013 to shame.
    The rich are saving cash at a record pace
    It seems so long ago. But in 2009, many of the wealthy were stunned to find themselves in a cash crunch. Despite all the talk of cash cushions and risk management, many of the wealthy suddenly realized that they had overborrowed, overspent and overconcentrated on a single asset or industry.
    We had suddenly entered the new age of the High-Beta Rich, where the wealth was volatile and far more cash was needed to absorb the shocks of financial markets.
    Four years later, the lesson still holds.
    A study from Spectrem Group asked wealthy and affluent investors “what do you wish you had done differently in the crisis.”
    Retail investors most bearish in 7 months: Survey
    Retail investors took profits in July on fears about the Federal Reserve’s exit plan from its monster monetary stimulus, with the group showing the lowest sentiment reading since January, according to data culled from the largest pool of retail traders by TD Ameritrade.
    The firm’s proprietary “Investor Movement Index” released Monday showed a 4.87 reading, down from a bullish 5.15 reading in June. They were net sellers of equities last month, especially in shares of 2013 highfliers like Hewlett PackardCisco andTime Warner Cable.
    “I think its taper fears,” said Steve Quirk, senior vice president of TD Ameritrade’s Trader Group. “The investing public is not stupid. They know it’s coming and this is probably a point that if you’ve seen appreciable gains, you should start to take them off the table.”
    That’s the beginning of the end…

    CHART OF THE DAY: This Chart Of The Economy And Stocks Makes Almost No Sense

    cotd gdp stocks

    Bloomberg, Business Insider
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