Friday, May 20, 2016

The Economy is Collapsing, Countries Are Selling Off US Debt At The Fastest Pace Since 1978, Texas Is Building Its Own Gold Repository

 Spain’s debt is now worth more than the value of the economy. Target misses expectations as sales decline. Obama now pushing overtime to adjust for inflation, even though they are reporting no inflation. Baltic Dry Index holding at 642. Citi surprise index shows the economy is declining. Texas is building its own gold repository. Saudi Arabia has a full blown liquidity problem. Countries are selling off Treasuries at the fastest pace since 1978. FOMC using propaganda of an interest rate hike to push the markets up.

Hours In Line And Then An ID And Fingerprint Scan — Just To BUY GROCERIES

(Daniel Jennings)  Grocery shopping has become a nightmare for citizens in Venezuela, as consumers have to stand in line for hours to get into government-controlled markets, simply to buy small amounts of rationed goods on certain days.
Citizens even have to use their IDs — and are limited to how many times they can visit the store each week.
“There’s just unplugged display cases, flies and a bad odor,” Caracas resident Anny Valero said of her neighborhood supermarket.
The only food Valero could find was three cans of sardines, and she needed to present a government ID card and submit to a fingerprint scan to get that, National Public Radio (NPR) reported
The clerk made Valero put one can of sardines back due to rationing. Valero also had to present her son’s birth certificate to buy Pampers diapers.
Venezuela now has the world’s highest rate of inflation (180 percent) and shortages of basic goods and electricity. The situation is made worse by low oil prices, as well as a drought that has led to a scarcity of electricity. Venezuela relies on dams for its power.
“This is such a waste of time, and we have to do it every week,” Valero told NPR. “My husband risks losing his job, because he’s here with me shopping, and on top of that we can only buy two of each item.”
Valero’s husband, Yossmy Benaventi, accompanies her to keep thieves from stealing her groceries. The only alternative to the supermarket is the black market, where gangsters charge a fortune for food.
Looting and Pillaging Replace Shopping
The streets outside of Valero’s supermarket were filled with black marketers selling eggs, fish and meat. Valero and Benaventi could have bought meat from them, but it would have cost one-fourth of his monthly salary as a mechanic.
Story continues below video

Many Venezuelans have found an alternative to supermarkets in the form of looting. In the city of Guarenas, a mob pillaged the Paga Poco market because of rumors there was food hidden it. There have been 166 reports of looting in Guarenas this year alone.
The Panama Post reported that mobs of people with sticks were roaming through the streets of Guarenas, trying to break into stores and steal food. Some of the rioters were chanting, “we’re hungry.”
The rioting began after no food was delivered to markets for several days. President Nicolas Maduro responded to the violence by declaring a “state of emergency” and calling out the National Guard.
As part of the emergency, the government seized control of the Dia supermarket in Gueranas. No food has been delivered to the market for a week.
Even worse violence is now occurring in Caracas, where opposition parties organized mass rallies to protest Maduro’s socialist government. Police and soldiers closed off streets and shut down the subway to keep protestors away from the capitol building.
Instead of restoring order, the crackdown led to chaos, with protestors throwing rocks at police and troops teargassing protestors. The protestors are demanding a recall election to get rid of Maduro.

Another Major US Retailer Closing 75 Stores

(NEW YORK)  As part of a restructuring, clothing retailer Gap will close its fleet of 53 Old Navy stores in Japan. All told, the company is shuttering 75 stores in an effort to save $275 million annually.
Gap shares quickly jumped 5.5 percent on the news before giving back some of the gains. The stock was last up about more than 3 percent in after-hours trading.
The retailer posted adjusted fiscal first-quarter earnings of 32 cents on revenue of $3.44 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of 32 cents a share on sales of $3.51 billion, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters. Earnings were down from 56 cents a share a year earlier and revenue fell from $3.66 billion.
Gap said it saw its comparable-store sales decline 5 percent during the quarter. To reposition itself for long-term growth, the company said it will “focus on geographies with the greatest potential” and “streamline its operating model.”
As part of this restructuring, Old Navy will close stores in Japan and focus on growth in North America and China. The brand saw a 6 percent global same-store sales decline in the quarter. Gap emphasized that Japan remains an important market for the company’s portfolio and that 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores will remain in the country.
The retailer also said it would be shut some Banana Republic locations, bringing the total expected store closure count to 75 by the end of fiscal 2016. For the first quarter, Banana Republic global saw an 11 percent decline in comparable-store sales.
“By taking every opportunity to exploit our strategic advantages, our brands will be able to more fully harness the power of the enterprise to better serve their customers across channels and geographies,” Art Peck, CEO of Gap, said in a statement.
Gap also said that it will not reaffirm its earnings outlook for the current fiscal year, but noted that the current “First Call consensus earnings per share estimate of $1.92 falls within a reasonable range of potential outcomes, excluding restructuring impacts from its store closure and streamlining measures.”
The company, however, added that “trends in the apparel retail environment would need to improve from the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 in order to achieve this estimate.”

Sports Authority to close all of its stores, including dozens in California

Sports Authority will close all of its 450-plus stores across the United States after it was unable to secure a buyer, according to a new court filing.
The liquidation includes dozens of stores in California. As of last month, the retailer had 76 stores in the state, according to its website.
The Colorado-based company, which was once the largest sporting goods store chain in the country with stores in 41 states and Puerto Rico, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March with the intention to restructure.
As part of that restructuring, the company announced it would close 140 stores. But the retailer was unable to reach an agreement with creditors and lenders, and was instead sold at auction.

A group of liquidation companies bought Sports Authority's assets. Store leases will be sold off at another time.
It's unclear when stores will close. In the March filing, the chain said store closures would take up to three months. Stores will be offering going-out-of-business sales beginning next week.
Like other big-box retailers, Sports Authority struggled in recent years with new competitors online and in the bricks-and-mortar sphere.

Sports Authority was founded in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1987. In 1990, Kmart acquired the company. In 2006, the company was bought by a private equity firm.
Sports Authority currently has the corporate naming rights to Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the stadium where the Denver Broncos play.
The retailer reported $3.5 billion in revenue last year and employs 16,000 people, according to Forbes magazine. Representatives from Sports Authority declined to comment.
Griffin writes for the Tampa Bay Times/McClatchy.

Vermont College Recently Led by Socialist Sanders’ Wife Closes in Financial Turmoil


(Steve Byas)  The late Margaret Thatcher, former Conservative Party prime minister of Great Britain, once remarked that socialism works pretty well, until you run out of other people’s money.
Burlington College in Vermont was not a socialist, or state-run institution, but it was led until recently by Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders (shown), the wife of avowed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders. It was announced this week that it will close its doors on May 27.
Burlington has apparently run out of other people’s money.
The financial woes of the small, private college developed from the real estate deal that Dr. Sanders talked the board into making while serving as its president from 2004 to 2011. She persuaded the board to enter into $10 million of debt in the form of bonds and loans to obtain what has been described as “expensive lakefront” property. The land and buildings were purchased from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, in an apparent effort to attract more students to the campus, and more donors to its treasury. The school closes with less than 250 students.
From its inception, Burlington College was marketed as a “free spirit” institution, launched in the living room of its founder and first president, Dr. Stewart LaCasce. LaCasce was the commencement speaker on Sunday, but no mention was made of the school’s demise during the ceremonies, which marked the school’s 35th year of operation.
Much of the curriculum was tilted to the Left — not at all unusual in modern American colleges and universities. Its Media Studies program offered coursework in “media activism and social movements,” for example. But what set Burlington apart from most other institutions dominated by a left-wing ideology was its Cuba Semester Abroad.
The program, created in 2007, sent dozens of students from the Vermont campus to study at the University of Havana in Communist Cuba. According to the Burlington College website,
Living and studying in Cuba will sharpen the abilities of students to think critically and to imagine creatively. Cuba is a society that has gone its own way against enormous odds and has developed a society unlike any other. For the United States student, the island offers the singular opportunity to question, debate and discuss, to get beneath the surface of the issues and to evaluate independently the art, culture, history and politics of this unknown but compelling world, 90 miles from our shores.
Unknown world? Actually, there is really nothing unknown about Cuba except just how many of its citizens were executed or imprisoned since the Communist brothers Fidel and Raul Castro seized power there in 1959, establishing a totalitarian Communist dictatorship on the ill-fated island. While the “United States student” may have an opportunity to “question, debate and discuss,” Cuban students had better not openly question the Castro brothers, or they could be added to the afformentioned totals.
“A fascinating destination in the Caribbean, Cuba has been isolated from its northern neighbors in the United States since 1959,” the website noted without explaining why, but lamented, “In turn, we have been isolated from the Cuban people.” So Burlington College developed its Cuba Semester Abroad program in an effort to overcome this isolation, hoping to “open up the lines of communication.”
Now, with the closing of the little college, it appears that the goal of keeping lines of communication open with Communist Cuba will have to be handled by President Obama, who recently restored diplomatic relations with the nation.
When it became apparent in 2012 that Burlington College was facing an impending financial implosion, Sanders resigned, taking a generous severance package of $200,000. Coralee Holm, dean of operations at the college, recounted the efforts of the school to survive the crushing debt incurred during Sanders’ tenure:
We have explored multiple, multiple options — just about anything we could think of. This is a great loss to the higher ed community, so we did explore many other options. But in the final analysis, none of them came through.
For example, the college sold off much of the land it had only recently purchased, while holding onto the small six-acre plot with the central building. Despite lowering the debt to more manageable levels, the school was recently notified that its $1 million credit line would not be renewed. At that point, the college board of trustees felt it was out of options, and voted to close the college.
Another hit taken by Burlington was when, after being placed on probation by a Vermont accreditation agency because of its shaky financial situation, school officials were informed that they would not be able to award academic credit after January 2016. Despite the overwhelming debt taken on at the urging of Jane Sanders, school officials did not blame her.
Interestingly, among the more popular of the campaign proposals of her husband, Senator Sanders, who is locked in a battle for the Democratic Party nomination with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was his call for “free tuition” for America’s college students. National student loan debt is now estimated at $1.2 trillion nationally. Annual tuition (not counting fees, which many colleges use to hide the true cost of the college “education”) at Burlington was $21,500, which means a student who completed a four-year degree program (with maybe a little “study” abroad in Cuba) would take on $86,000 in debt, just for tuition — not counting room and board!
Sanders and his wife have claimed they care little about material things; however, they have a personal portfolio of more than a million dollars, mostly in stocks and property.
Mrs. Sanders told lenders at the time the loan was obtained that the college had received $2 million in fundraising pledges — a stipulation in securing the loans; however, the amount raised was actually only about $279,000.
In an interview with a volunteer in the Sanders for President campaign which appeared in the left-wing publication The Nation, Jane Sanders offered a prediction of her role in the White House in her field of higher education:
I see my overall role, if I had the honor, as listening to the voices here in America that are not being heard and putting them out there for people to hear, but also researching and learning some of the best practices everywhere else and bringing them back here and letting them be heard as well. Kind of a megaphone.
Hopefully, these so-called best practices will not include the slip-shod way Sanders conducted the finances of Burlington College during her tenure. Brady Toensing, a partner in the law firm of diGenova and Toensing, has even filed a legal complaint against Sanders with federal authorities, charging her with federal bank fraud.
It appears that Senator Sanders’ wife may wind up “feeling the bern” in a different way from that felt by Bernie’s idealistic supporters.

Venezuela’s Socialism Has Triggered Looting Instead of Shopping

saqueos- venezuela

(Sabrina Martin)  EspañolLootings are becoming a common occurrence in Venezuela, as the country’s food shortage resulted in yet another reported incident of violence in a supermarket — this time in the Luvebras Automarket located in the La Florida Province of Caracas.
Videos posted to social media showed desperate people falling over each other trying to get bags of rice. One user claimed the looting occurred because it is difficult to get cereal, and so people “broke down the doors and damaged infrastructure.”
In the central province of Carabobo, residents ransacked a corn warehouse located in the coastal city of Puerto Cabello. They reportedly broke down the gate because workers were giving away small portions.
“There’s no rice, no pasta, no flour,” resident Glerimar Yohan told La Costa, “only hunger.”
Yohan, like the approximately 50 other people asking employees to give her a “little bit” of corn to feed her children for breakfast, was turned away.
Warehouse workers indicated that people managed to get about 50 bags of unprocessed corn.
According to the local newspaper, Carabobo and municipal police later arrived to the scene and took control of the situation, but not before residents set tires and other objects on fire.
The mayor of Chacao Ramon Muchacho warned that Caribbean islands and Colombia may suffer an influx of refugees from Venezuela if food shortages continue in the country.
“As hunger deepens, we could see more Venezuelans fleeing by land or sea to an island,” Muchacho said.
The mayor’s statements come after Curaçao President of the Red Cross Angelo Ramirez reported that the island is preparing itself for possible Venezuelan refugees “in the event that the situation in Venezuela becomes worse.”
Muchacho recently reported that with so little food available on supermarket shelves, Venezuelans have taken to the streets to hunt pigeons and other animals — even in the richer regions of Caracas.

Wendy’s to replace thousands of cashiers with automated kiosks… $15 wage demands lead to accelerating unemployment and social unrest

by Mike Adams
(NaturalNews) While whiney, over-privileged “safe space” millennials were marching through the streets demanding $15 an hour wages, fast food giants like Wendy’s were quietly working on automation innovations to make them obsolete. Now, Wendy’s has announced a rollout that would terminate the employment of thousands of cashiers by replacing them with automated kiosks systems.
The first rule of protesting for higher wages is to make sure you never become such a financial burden to your employer that they seek to automate your job out of existence.
Notably, automated kiosk systems don’t complain. They work 24/7, never show up late and don’t smoke pot in the parking lot then show up to work stoned. They don’t hit on other employees, argue with customers or call in sick at the last minute. Even better, employers don’t have to pay social security taxes, workers’ comp insurance and other wage taxes on robots. For every employee demanding $15 an hour, a company is spending at least $25 an hour in total benefits, taxes and risk.
No wonder Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King and everybody else is trying to figure out how to get rid of human workers altogether.

Automated kiosks to be rolled out across 6,000 Wendy’s restaurants

As reported in, “self-service ordering kiosks will be made available across its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year as minimum wage hikes and a tight labor market push up wages.”
These kiosks are so easy to use that even the cashiers who get fired by Wendy’s will be able to figure out how to use them. It’s all part of the fast food industry’s ultimate goal:Render humans obsolete.
And why not? Today’s whiney, hyper-privileged youngsters are incapable of recognizing real work. They believe society owes them everything — including ridiculously high wages for low-value jobs — and that none of them should ever have to engage in any real work at all. Besides, government benefits are so high for the unemployed that it’s almost easier to get yourself fired, collect unemployment and start living off the government without having to lift a finger to support yourself.

The ultimate goal in fast food: Replace ALL human workers with robots

As mandatory minimum wage hikes kick in across economically disastrous states like California, entire industries (like the fast food industry) are accelerating their search for ways to replace minimum wage workers with automated systems. Nearly everything a human worker accomplishes in a fast food setting will soon be taken over by kiosks or robotic systems, and as this happens, minimum wage workers will be booted to the curb.
That’s right: Mass unemployment is the next phase of this government-run game ofeconomic roulette. Just as automated systems are taking over low-end jobs, open borders policies are also flooding states like California and Arizona with yet more able workers who are taking the remaining jobs away from everybody else. It’s a double squeeze, and it’s going to utterly destroy the jobs market for low-wage workers. Stupidly, they believe their way out is to demand higher wages for low-aptitude jobs. But this only ends in unemployment due to an acceleration of business investments in automated systems.
Sadly, public education has so utterly failed to teach basic economics and mathematics that almost no one understands the cause-effect relationship between higher minimum wages and accelerating unemployment. This economic ignorance is amplified by an illiterate leftist media whose finance writers got their economic theory from lunatic Marxist college professors who think that government creates wealth rather than destroying it. In their minds, wealth can be created by decree — declaring a mandatory minimum wage “by order of the King!” — and that whatever money is needed to fund such increases will magically appear out of an astral plane or a parallel universe somewhere.
But this isn’t how it works at all. In the fast food industry, profit margins are razor thin. Small increases in wages have huge impacts on long-term economic viability for franchise owners. To cover the costs of increased wages, many of these fast food chains will have to raise prices, placing their factory food menu items out of reach of even the poorest wage earners in society.

The future is mass unemployment, rioting, social chaos and popular uprisings

It’s not hard to see where this all takes us. As automated systems displace human workers, mass unemployment will sweep the nation. These large numbers of unemployed, angry people with all kinds of free time on their hands will eventually riot in the streets.
Sadly, the system has no use for them anymore. They are, from the point of view of globalists, “useless eaters” who are a net drain on economic resources rather than net contributors. The only real question at that point is, “How will the system get rid of all these people?”
Ebola, Chapter Two?

Empire of Lies: How the US Continues to Deceive the World About Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans have watched the US government lie brazenly and repeatedly -- to the American people and the world -- about its actions and interests in the Caribbean. Now, members of Congress are trying to lower Puerto Rico's minimum wage for young people.
Old San Juan, a tourist destination important to Puerto Rico’s economy, Feb. 3, 2014. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo / The New York Times)Old San Juan, a tourist destination important to Puerto Rico's economy, February 3, 2014. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo / The New York Times)
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"There are three kinds of lies," said Mark Twain. "Lies, damned lies, and statistics." Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, this is not an aphorism; it is an operating principle.
Separated by an ocean and a language from the mainland, Puerto Ricans have watched the US government lie brazenly and repeatedly -- to the American people and the world at large -- about its actions and interests in the Caribbean.
The latest walk down liar's lane is a cut to the minimum wage, as proposed by the US House of Representatives' Committee on Natural Resources.
Efforts to Lower the Minimum Wage
On April 12, 2016, the House Committee on Natural Resources released HR 4900: the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, with the acronym of PROMESA. The bill creates a Financial Control Board, which will act as a collection agency for the hedge funds/vulture funds throughout the island.
Taking their cue from The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Krueger Report and a study commissioned by 34 hedge funds, the committee decided that a "good" way to spark the Puerto Rican economy and improve the lives of its residents would be to lower their minimum wage ... so they stuck that in the bill, as well.
This appears in Section 403 of PROMESA (p. 75-6) with intentionally convoluted language. The section title, "First Minimum Wage in Puerto Rico," suggests that Congress is creating a minimum wage on the island. It then requires you to read Section (6)(g)(4) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Only then do you realize that PROMESA will cut the minimum wage of newly hired young workers throughout the island, from $7.25 to $4.25 per hour. This will apply to everyone aged 20 to 24, whenever they start a new job.
In Puerto Rico, there are over 200,000 people in this age bracket. Many of them are paying student loans. Few of them can afford to live on $4.25 per hour, unless they continue to live with their parents.
The supply-side argument that this will "create more jobs and economic development on the island" is woefully myopic. At $4.25 per hour, $170 per week, $8,840 per year, a young worker will make 25 percent of the per capita income of a resident of Mississippi, the poorest state in the US. Someone needs to explain to the House Committee on Natural Resources that this is not "economic development." It is indentured servitude that smells of racism.
Standing for Ethics and Integrity -- While Accepting "Gifts"
Another brazen contradiction, which reeks of dishonesty, is the PROMESA policy toward "gifts" for the Financial Control Board.
On the one hand, the Control Board will conduct island-wide audits, subpoena witnesses, impose fines and imprison anyone who obstructs its mission of fiscal accountability and honest government.
On the other hand, the Control Board will be authorized to accept and use "gifts, bequests, or devises of services or property, both real and personal."
It is not clear why the Board needs to receive "gifts," or how these gifts enhance their standing as an "honest and ethical" ruler of the Puerto Rican economy. What is clear is that this open invitation to bribery, influence peddling and money laundering appears on page 21 of the PROMESA bill.
Dark Money Ads
The Orwellian deceptions are not limited to a "helpful" minimum wage cut, or "gifts" for a Control Board. Right now, as recently as May 17, a multimillion-dollar ad campaign funded by "dark money" sources (i.e. anonymous and undisclosed) is willfully deceiving the entire American public.
Throughout April and May of 2016, a group called the "Center for Individual Freedom" (CFIF) purchased hundreds of TV ads in media markets all over the US to convince legislators to deny any Chapter 9 bankruptcy relief to Puerto Rico.
The ads aired on Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates nationwide. They ran on local news programs and on the April 10 episode of "Meet the Press." You can view one of these ads here.
Like a toxic intravenous fluid, these CFIF ads are continually updated and injected into the US corporate media. The latest injection occurred on May 17, 2016.
These commercials are part of a larger propaganda machinery. According to The New York Times, "a coalition of hedge funds and financial firms has hired dozens of lobbyists, forged alliances with Tea Party activists, and recruited so-called AstroTurf groups on the island to make their case. This approach has proven successful overseas, in countries like Argentina and Greece, yielding billions in profit amid economic collapse."
As a "dark money" group, CFIF is not required to disclose its donors, so the sponsors of these ads are unknown. It is reasonable to assume that several vulture funds and their lobbyists are involved, but federal law and the Citizens United decision of the US Supreme Court make it illegal to compel the disclosure of who is paying for these "commercials."
Worst of all, the commercials are lying. They all urge a block of the "Washington bailout of Puerto Rico" and suggest that US taxpayers will be forced to pay for it. But bankruptcy restructurings are not bailouts, and vulture funds are not taxpayers.
When I pressed the CFIF for a clarification of its ads, CFIF leaders did not get on the phone. Instead they sent a position paper, which, after 2,031 words of obfuscation, admits that Chapter 9 bankruptcy is not a government-funded bailout, and would not be paid for by the US taxpayer.
Obviously, CFIF is not a bastion of truth. It is a hired gun. Its cynical conflation of terms is geared to create public confusion and provide political cover for members of Congress who are allegedly "responding to their constituents," when in fact, they are servicing their lobbyists and campaign donors.
This is Citizens United on steroids and nakedly transparent -- but 1,500 miles away, the people of Puerto Rico are powerless to stop it.
As they say on TV, "but wait, there's more!" The lies are not limited to the US Congress and "dark money" organizations. Some of the most lethal whoppers were hatched on Wall Street. Cynically and systematically, the entire Puerto Rican economy was set up to fail by the ratings agencies, with a junk bond rating scam.
Junk Bond Ratings
In 2010, the Big Three rating services (Fitch, Moody's, Standard & Poor's) all warned Puerto Rico to "get your act in order." If this "order" was not established, the services would slap Puerto Rico with the lowest possible credit rating: junk bond status. And so, in 2010, the government of Puerto Rico dutifully laid off 30,000 workers.
In 2013, it raised corporate tax rates to 39 percent and hiked the water rates by 60 percent. Also in 2013, islanders paid double the average electricity costs of the rest of the US, at 29 cents per kilowatt. The government also raised the retirement age, increased worker contributions and lowered government pensions and benefits.
Despite all these fiscal austerities, the three rating services pulled a last-minute trick on Puerto Rico. They kicked the island's credit rating into the gutter -- after Puerto Rico had done everything that the rating services demanded. In February 2014, all three rating services downgraded Puerto Rico's debt to junk bond status. This "junk bond" maneuver -- a bait-and-switch tactic by the three rating services -- cut the island off from any further credit, and accelerated its path to default.
These are the same rating services that were sued by federal and state governments and pension funds nationwide for their complicity in the subprime mortgage crisis.
A History of Lies
"How could this happen?" a reader may ask. "How can they get away with this?"
The answer is very simple: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what happens in Puerto Rico ... never happens at all. For over a century, the abuses heaped on the island's residents are simply not reported in the US mainstream media. This happens so brazenly and frequently that, for many Puerto Ricans, the US is seen as an empire of lies. This mendacity is deeply rooted in the history of US relations with Puerto Rico. Here are just a few historical examples:
1) Blessings of Enlightened Civilization
On July 29, 1898, Gen. Nelson A. Miles delivered the first official US proclamation to Puerto Rico. As his men hoisted Old Glory over the Ponce town hall, Miles declared, "We come to bring you protection, not only to yourselves but to your property, to promote your prosperity, to bestow upon you the immunities and blessings of the liberal institutions of our government ... and the blessings and advantages of enlightened civilization."
But just two years later, in 1900, the US devalued the island's currency by 40 percent. Then, in 1901, Puerto Rico was prohibited from negotiating commercial agreements with any other nation, and prohibited from determining its own tariffs.
By 1930, US banking syndicates owned more than half of the island's farmland. They also owned the postal system, electric utilities, coastal railroads and the San Juan International Seaport.
So much for "protecting your property and promoting your prosperity."
2) US Citizenship
On March 2, 1917, the Jones-Shafroth Act conferred US citizenship on every resident of Puerto Rico. One month later, 18,000 Puerto Ricans were drafted and sent to fight in World War I.
But 57 years later, after spilling their blood in five wars, Puerto Ricans were still being denied the federal minimum wage ... for working on the very land that they'd once owned.
3) The Ponce Massacre
On March 21, 1937, on Palm Sunday, Puerto Ricans marched peacefully and with a permit to protest the land and employment abuses of the United States. Under the orders of then-Gov. Blanton Winship, the police shot at them with machine guns. Seventeen unarmed men, women and children were murdered and more than 200 were sent to the hospital. Among the dead was Georgina Maldonado, a 7-year-old girl who was shot in the back.
For weeks, The New York Times, The Washington Post and others in the mainstream US press kept reporting this as a "Puerto Rican riot," and insisted it had been a "gunfight with Nationalists." This lie was only exposed because of one photo.
4) The Gag Law of 1948
Under intense US pressure, in June 1948, Public Law 53 was passed in Puerto Rico, which made it a felony to say one word, sing a song, whistle a tune or communicate anything against the US or in favor of Puerto Rican independence. Ownership of a Puerto Rican flag was also a Law 53 violation.
The US called this an effort to "fight communism" in Puerto Rico, but it was actually a gag law to silence Pedro Albizu Campos (the independence leader who'd just been released from prison), and to discourage anyone from joining the Nationalist Party. Law 53 violations were punishable by 10 years in jail.
Ironically, this gag law was passed in the same year that George Orwell completed his novel 1984.
5) Commonwealth Status
In 1952, the US informed the UN Committee on Decolonization that Puerto Rico had freely chosen to associate itself as a "commonwealth" of the United States. This meant that Puerto Rico was no longer a colony and should be taken off the UN list of non-self governing territories (i.e. colonies).
Years later, the draftsman of the commonwealth filing documents and the "constitution" of Puerto Rico, José Trías Monge, the chief justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, repudiated this commonwealth as a diplomatic ruse.
Monge explained that the US could not wage a 1950s Cold War against the Soviet Union and be the "leader of the free world" while maintaining the oldest colony on the planet -- and so the US invented this "commonwealth" status. Monge's book was appropriately titled Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World.
The US government agrees with Monge. The Obama administration recently repudiated the entire "commonwealth" relationship and told the US Supreme Court that the island remains a dependent US territory.
So the commonwealth was a lie.
Countering the Lies
The entire 118-year history of the US-Puerto Rico relationship is riddled with deception, but the lies have become unsustainable, and Puerto Rico is at a breaking point. The sales tax is 11.5 percent. Electricity rates are 300 percent higher than in New York. In 2013, the water rates rose by 60 percent. Thanks to the Jones Act, the cost of living is 12 percent higher than in the United States, yet the per capita income is hovering at $15,200. No tortured logic, no trickle-down theorist or hedge fund hustler can credibly argue that a minimum wage reduction to $4.25 will help the island -- especially when the rest of the US is pushing for $15 per hour in all 50 states.
Even if ostensibly limited to workers aged 20 to 24, a $4.25 minimum will place a downward pressure on all wages throughout Puerto Rico. It will also discourage tens of thousands of students from attending or finishing college, thus creating a permanent underclass throughout the island.
If anything, this minimum wage cut will increase unemployment, because full-time work will pay less than the combined package of welfare, Medicaid and food stamp benefits for which a family of three will qualify.
Unless of course, the federal government intends to cut those, as well -- and then tell the rest of the world that Puerto Ricans are lazy, shiftless and need to "learn how to work" for $4.25 per hour.
This is not public policy. It is thievery in broad daylight.

VENEZUELA FOOD & ECONOMIC CRISIS – We Want Food! Venezuela Crisis Deepens. Coming Soon To USA?

 VENEZUELA FOOD & ECONOMIC CRISIS – We Want Food! Venezuela Crisis Deepens. Coming Soon To USA?
Unemployed construction worker Roberto Sanchez could hear a time bomb ticking as he waited in line with 300 people outside a grocery store this week, hoping that corn meal or rice might be delivered later in the afternoon.
He fears that Venezuela could explode at any minute into political and economic chaos.
“We have no food. They are cutting power four hours a day. Crime is soaring. And (President Nicolás) Maduro blames everyone but himself for the mess we find ourselves in,” said Sanchez, 36. “We can’t go on like this forever. Something has to give.”
The question is what will give first. As the economy spirals into deeper disarray, protests aimed at driving the unpopular president out of office are growing. Maduro responded over the weekend by declaring a 60-day state of emergency to combat what he said are U.S.-sponsored efforts to overthrow his socialist government. It was around noon when a food truck rolled up to a Venezuelan state-subsidized supermarket in the town of Guarenas just east of the capital.
But, to the fury of the long line of people waiting out front, the cargo wasn’t unloaded. Instead soldiers took it away. The clubbing districts of Las Mercedes and San Ignacio in Caracas are as packed as ever, despite the economic crisis gripping Venezuela. But there is one notable difference: a lack of Polar beer. Empresas Polar SA, the country’s largest food and beverage company, has halted beer production because, it says in a statement on its website, it cannot obtain the foreign currency it needs to purchase malted barley. “The state of emergency isn’t improving anything. It is not making us eat better. There is only the black market and it is too expensive … this economic model of regulations is only making us poor, without any groceries, and hungry,” she says.
Venezuela’s opposition legislature has declared a “nutritional emergency,” proclaiming that the country simply does not have enough food to feed its population. The move comes after years of socialist rationing and shortages that forced millions to wait on lines lasting as long as six hours for a pint of milk, a bag of flour, or carton of cooking oil.
Opposition legislator Julio Borges announced the measure on Thursday, which would allow the legislature to push for more imports on basic food goods and inspect government-owned food companies to ensure they are meeting efficiency standards. “This will make corporations and expropriated lands produce food again, will simplify the process of national and foreign investment, and establish incentives for investors,” Borges promised. Venezuela food supermarket “South America” emergency nutrition health healthy economy collapse “economic collapse” life lifestyle people 2016 2017 oil line official hunger poverty “emergency supplies” latin charity leader leadership “united states” “food stamp” EBT “Clean water” “water filter” prepare survival news media entertainment shopping market eat supply “elite nwo agenda” gerald celente jim rogers marc faber gloom doom jsnip4 montagraph coast to coast am alex jones infowars louis farrakhan gold silver bullion crash end times earthquake california
Socialist party members are arguing that the decree goes beyond the scope of the power of the legislature and cannot override the executive decree President Nicolás Maduro put into motion in January, which declared an “economic emergency” and allowed the government to further intervene in private corporations. Venezuela’s Supreme Court extended the viability of the emergency decree this week, in a move many consider an attempt to keep the opposition legislature from asserting too much power over the food industry in Venezuela.
Socialist legislators also warned that “a food emergency would be an excuse for an American intervention.” While most economic experts attribute Venezuela’s dire economic situation to years of socialist mismanagement and, more recently, the international drop in crude oil prices, Venezuela’s government has long blamed the United States. Most recently, Maduro blamed American officials for allegedly prompting a violent supermarket riot in which the fight for bags of flour
Opposition economists, meanwhile, point at price controls which set prices for basic goods below market rates as causes for the shortages. It already owes China, its latest benefactor, $50 billion. such as raising the price of state-retailed gasoline, now below 1 cent per gallon, and altering a currency exchange system under which the U.S. dollar is worth 150 times more on the black market than it is at the official rate.

BOOM: San Fran home prices record high, Two-thirds would struggle to cover $1,000 emergency

With high demand and a tight market, Bay Area housing prices continue to soar, setting record highs in April in Santa Clara and Alameda counties.
The median price of a single-family home in Santa Clara County hit seven figures for the first time last month: $1 million on the button. Prices grew even dizzier in San Mateo County, where the $1.2 million average matched the previous record, set in May 2015.
The East Bay also saw a run-up in prices, with the median Alameda County home reaching $750,000, up more than 10 percent from the previous month. Tugged upward by prices in Walnut Creek and other high-end areas, the median Contra Costa County price grew to $525,000, its steepest in seven years, according to new housing figures released Wednesday.
“We just don’t have a market under $700,000 in Walnut Creek,” said Alain Pinel agent Margaret Garber-Teeter. “And even at $700,000, you’re going to be in second-tier schools. So there’s still an affordability problem for young families, unless their parents help them, and a lot of young families get help.”
US Home Ownership – Massive Downtrend

Poll: Two-thirds of US would struggle to cover $1,000 crisis
NEW YORK (AP) — Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to an exclusive poll released Thursday, a signal that despite years of recovery from the Great Recession, Americans’ financial conditions remain precarious as ever.
These financial difficulties span all income levels, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Seventy-five percent of people in households making less than $50,000 a year would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill. But when income rose to between $50,000 and $100,000, the difficulty decreased only modestly to 67 percent.
Even for the country’s wealthiest 20 percent — households making more than $100,000 a year — 38 percent say they would have at least some difficulty coming up with $1,000.
“The more we learn about the balance sheets of Americans, it becomes quite alarming,” said Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute focusing on poverty and emergency savings issues.
Harry Spangle is one of those Americans. A 66-year-old former electrician from New Jersey, Spangle said he thought he would always have a job and “lived for today” but lost his job before the downturn. He said he would have to borrow from friends or family in order to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense.

Bernie Sanders – Why Do We Spend Trillions On War And Not On America

James Risen – Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War on Terror , Crackdown on Whistleblowers

Caterpillar Retail Sales Fall For Record 41 Consecutive Months

For Caterpillar, the great recession was bad, for about 19 months. In May 2010, after declining sharply for just under two years, CAT posted it first positive global retail sales comps and never looked back... until December 2012 when comp sales once again turned negative and have been negative ever since. For the past 41 months!

The breakdown showed that contrary to popular opinion, there has been no pick up in demand for heavy industrial machinery anywhere around the globe.
  • Caterpillar global 3-mo. retail machine sales down 12% vs March 13% fall, Feb. down 21%
  • North America machine sales down 11% after falling 8% in March
  • Asia/Pacific sales April down 10% after falling 14% in March
  • Latam sales April down 37% after falling 34%
  • EAME (Europe, Africa, Middle East) sales April down 6% after falling 8%
  • Power systems sales: April down 34% after falling 41%
And a quick comment from Axiom's Gordon Johnson who reminds us that CAT's sales guidance implies a rebound in the second half, yet North America sales are worsening.
While some modest improvements were observed (i.e., the declines in Asia/Pac slights moderated in Resource Industries & were up for a second straight month in Construction), declines in North America look to be deepening in both Construction & Resources.

This seems to be a bad start for a company guiding to a back-end loaded rebound in 2016 sales.
Don't worry Gordon: there are always millions in buybacks to fix anything "bad"

SFi030 Mike Rivero - Earth is a big slave plantation

The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?

Imagine – the European Union were to collapse tomorrow – or any day soon for that matter. Europeans would dance in the streets. The EU has become a sheer pothole of fear and terror: Economic sanctions – punishment, mounting militarization, the abolition of civil rights for most Europeans. A group of unelected technocrats, representing 28 countries, many of them unfit to serve in their own countries’ political system, but connected well enough to get a plum job in Brussels – are deciding the future of Europe. In small groups and often in secret chambers they decide the future of Europe.
Take the TTIP – under pressure from their masters in Washington, behind closed doors under utmost secrecy – and most likely against their own personal good – a small group of European Commission (EC) delegates without scruples, without any respect for their co-citizens, without consideration for their children, grand-children and their children, only interested in the instant laurels and pay-back – to be sure – from the colonialist, usurper and warrior number One, the United States of Chaos and Killing, they are ready to put 500 million Europeans and their descendants at peril.
It cannot be said enough what horrors the TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) would do to the people of Europe; and that is based on the little we know from the 248 pages ‘leaked’ by Greenpeace Netherlands of the ultra-clandestine negotiations taking place. ‘Negotiations’ is the most unfair term imaginable, since all the rules are imposed by Washington, the same as with the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership, involving 11 Pacific countries and the US – but not China and Russia).
Though TPP negotiations are finished, none of the 11 Pacific partners, nor the US Congress have approved the treaty. There is hope that even if ‘negotiations’ by the secret EC traitors and Washington should come to conclusion, at least some of the 28 EU countries may not approve. To be valid, the treaty needs to be approved in unanimity. The new rightwing Austrian frontrunner for Austrian’s Presidency, Norbert Hofer, has already said he would not sign the TTIP agreement. Similar remarks have been made by the French Minister for Foreign Trade, Matthias Fekl, who said, “There cannot be an agreement without France and much less against France.”
Under the TTIP, the citizens of Europe would lose out on all fronts. Europeans would become literally subjects of a corporate empire, led by the United States of America. EU countries would stop being sovereign nations, even more so than is already the case under the current Brussels dictate. As the secret TTIP documents reveal, the agreement would be the death knell for Europe. Here is what Susan George, philosopher and political analyst and President of the Planning Committee of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam has to say:
  • The food we import would be chemically treated, would be genetically modified, would have no labels. You wouldn’t know exactly what is in your food. You could buy chicken that has been rinsed in chlorine, you could have beef that was raised with hormones, you could have biosynthetic food made out of one gene of a plant another of an animal, and this would not be labeled.
  • In the area of agriculture again, it is very likely that we would lose a great many farmers, because if we lower the tariffs of agriculture we will have a flood of American [highly subsidized, GMO]-corn and basic grains flooding into Spain and that will ruin a lot of farmers, exactly the way the ”campesinos” in Mexico were ruined by the North American Free Trade Agreement, the NAFTA.
  • ln the area of health, the pharmaceutical companies [want] to get rid of generic drugs. They have already succeeded in forcing the generic drug companies to repeat all of the clinical trials that they have already had to do with the same identical medicine but which has a brand name. To make it a generic drug you have to start all over again: clinical trials, blind tests, and so forth. So medicine would become much more expensive.
But most important:
  • [The TTIP] is about giving corporations the freedom to sue governments if they don’t like a law that the government has passed.
    We have a lot of examples now, because in hundreds of bilateral treaties this private judiciary system exists, and for example, the government of Egypt raised the minimum wage and a company, an important company, Veolia, from France, sued them because they would have to pay their workers more. This case has not been decided yet, but one case that has been decided is for example, Ecuador, which refused that an American petroleum company could drill in a particular region. Well, they said this is a protected area and you cannot drill here. And the company said, ah, we will sue you; and they won. And they have a fine on Ecuador of 1.8 billion dollars which is a lot of money for a small and fairly weak country.
This simply means that private corporate courts would be above the laws and courts of sovereign nations. There would be no sovereignty left; not even the little idependence Brussels has not yet destroyed. EU nations would all be under the rules of an Anglo-American led corporate empire.
You may read Susan George’s full article here, as well as my recently re-published one
And then there is TiSA, the ‘Trade in Services Agreement’, of which even fewer people are aware. It is also being ‘negotiated’ in secrecy, involving 23 WTO members (Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, the EU (28 countries), Hong Kong China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States). Altogether, we are talking about 50 countries; 49 of them bent to submit to one, the Unites States of Wars, Crimes and Domination. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize that, again, Washington is calling the shots. Actually, the TiSA talks, similar to those of the TTIP, are infiltrated by US corporate trolls and lobbyists, making Washington the representative for the US corporate empire and, of course, for Wall Street.
According to WTO, TiSA would be opening up the market for ‘trade in services’, meaning – expect privatization of all public and social services, like health care, education, social security systems, pensions, transportation, postal services, telecommunication, water supply and sanitation, solid waste disposal – and more would all be subject to buy-outs by transnational corporations. Just look at Greece, trying hard to pay back their ill-begotten debt, selling off her national social capital, or life capital, to the detriment of the poor – by now the majority of Greek – who depend on it. Once a country has signed the trade agreements, there is no way back. It has opened its social and public sectors to rent seeking private corporations.
Like with the TTIP, should a government at a later stage realize that privatization of, say water services, did not bring the promised benefits for the people, it cannot go back and re-nationalize, or municipalize this service. Remunicipalization of water services is currently happening in France, of all places, the country with the most privatized public water supply systems. In 2012 the government and municipalities of large cities decided to re-take these vital public services. This is currently ongoing. Under TiSA rules it would not be possible. Worse – once TiSA is signed, a country cannot decide to exempt a particular sector included in the list for potential ‘liberalization’, for example, health, education and other vital social services. Corporate arbitration courts, similar to those of the TTIP, would be set up for TiSA. – These ‘negotiations’ are taking place in Geneva, under the auspices of WTO – in secret – and driven by rules, sticks and carrots, imposed by – you guessed it – Washington.
If the EU were to collapse today, both the TTIP and the TiSA talks would come to a standstill. Anyone of the 28 EU countries, or better even of the 19 Eurozone countries, could bring the EU down. A Grexit, a Brexit, a fiasco emerging from the forthcoming rehash of the Spanish elections – or a firm decision by a government to default on its (mostly) troika imposed debt, could bring the house of cards of the dollar pyramid scheme to fall – and erase once and for all the enslaving dollar-euro hegemony. Debt could be renegotiated in newly restored national currencies. Remember, the euro is barely 15 years old. So – returning to national currencies should not be dramatic, but rather a sigh of relief – relief from a debt trap, and relief from Washington’s and Brussels’ boots of oppression.
Imagine what a collapse of the EU and the euro-zone would mean for the Greek people. Though, rumors have it that more than half the Greek are still adamant in hanging on to the destructive euro, I bet, its collapse would have hundreds of thousands dancing in the streets. Syriza could forget the currently negotiated additional €3 billion austerity budget cuts – even less pension and higher taxes for the poor.
To be sure, Greek debt relief will not come from the current EU/EC-troika constellation. To the contrary, the German Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schaeuble, has ever harsher words for Greece, as if he was threatening pushing Greece out of the EU. An empty threat, as everybody should know by now. Washington, also the masters of Germany, will not allow a Grexit, or a Brexit or an exit by any EU member. Washington needs the EU ‘intact’ to eventually serve as a slave partner in TTIP and TiSA.
What happened and continues to happen to Greece may serve as a (learning) example for other ‘weak’ southern EU countries to follow – unless, yes, unless, Greece or another country under EC-troika imposed economic and financial stress and strangulation takes the bull by the horns – taking a drastic decision: Exit the EU and the euro-zone, jump-start the local economy with a local currency, and negotiate the illegal and fraudulently imposed debt at their terms. That may bring about the end of the nefarious euro-zone – and the US-created European Union.
Be aware, the EU as it exists today, is not the invention of Europeans; it is a construct thought out immediately after WWII by the US, so as to keep Europe under her control – and to create a buffer zone vis-à-vis communism, the Soviet Union. It worked so far. This idea still prevails, as we see every day how Russia and her leader is being demonized and slandered by the western media. Let us be frank, if it weren’t for the strategic clear-headedness and foresight of President Putin, we – Europe – would be for the third time in 100 years enmeshed in a world war. And if we let this Washington imposed trend continue, Europe will become an Anglo-American  slaveland. Just look at TTIP and TiSA.
A true federation of sovereign European countries down the road, perhaps even with a common currency and a real central bank, may be a viable long-term solution for Europe. But – and this is the most important BUT, such a Europe will have to be designed by true and honest Europeans – am I dreaming? –  and absolutely without any influence of the United States of America. None.
Anyone of the 28 EU countries could return happiness to the people of Europe; could take the pain, frustration, fear and anxiety away; could reinstate national sovereignty, could bring national pride and local – instead of global – economy to the fore – by exiting the EU, by forfeiting the euro, by taking the reign of their people into the hands of a sovereign, democratic government.
A simple exit by one country – Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, the UK, France… you name it, could bring the ferocious debt machine to a grinding halt, opening the opportunity of joining a new, more just and more equal monetary scheme – the nascent combined eastern economic space of China, Russia, BRICS, SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union).
To be sure, time is important. Not for nothing Obama is pushing for speedy conclusions and signing of the disgraceful TTIP. The signing of these predatory agreements, TTIP, TiSA, TPP, is a key agenda item of Obama’s Presidency; his corporate and military legacy – NATO expansion is part of it – may depend on it.  Once these treaties are signed, there is no way back. If the TTIP is ratified despite all logic, and if subsequently the EU fell apart – each country would still be held accountable to the terms of the agreement. Hence, time for an EU collapse before signing of the TTIP and TiSA is of the essence.
This radical solution may be too much even for staunch EU / Euro opponents. Many of them still seek, hope and dream of a reformed EU. They still live under the illusion that ‘things’ could be worked out. Believe me – they cannot. The Machiavellian US-invented venture, called European Union with the equally US-invented common currency – the Eurozone – has run its course. It is about to ram the proverbial iceberg. The EU-Euro vessel is too heavy to veer away from disaster. Europe is better off taking time to regroup; each nation with the objective of regaining political and economic sovereignty – and perhaps with an eye a couple of generations down the road envisaging a new United Europe of sovereign federal states, independent, totally delinked from the diabolical games of the western Anglo-American empire.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, Chinese 4th Media, TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

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The Best US Cities For Jobs... For Now

The top cities are dominated by the tech community, with San Jose, CA and San Francisco, CA taking the top two spots in the overall ranking.
Here is the list of top 25 cities based on their overall ranking - Bloomberg points out that San Jose has risen from No. 7 to No. 1

As Bloomberg reports, Glassdoor Inc., a career website, published its list of the top 25 cities for jobs based on factors such as salary, job satisfaction, and cost of living.
Breaking down the details, here is the list for the median salary component - again led by tech heavy cities such as San Jose and San Francisco.

Job satisfaction...

And cost of living... note how incredible the cost of living is in San Jose and San Francisco, surely indicative of the run up in tech companies over the past few years in Silicon Valley, as those high wages and overzealous cash infusions by venture capitalists led to higher cost of living.

We assume this excludes living in a box in someone's front room.
Established tech communities such as San Jose, San Francisco, as well as up and coming tech cities such as Seattle, Boston, and Austin dominate the lists. "This demonstrates why so many people are looking to move to the San Francisco Bay area: Job satisfaction, work-life balance, and hiring opportunities are unparalleled compared to anywhere else in the country. It's not a surprise to see cities like Seattle and Austin at the top since they all have rising technology communities, great institutions for higher education and research, as well as affordable neighborhoods." said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.
While we're happy for all of these tech heavy cities making this list, we would caution those reading not to pack up and head to the West Coast just yet. While Silicon Valley has undoubtedly had a good run, the reality is that the second great tech bubble has popped, and impacts are only just beginning to be felt.
* * *
As a refresher for those who are curious, here is a quick timeline chronicling the bursting of the second tech bubble. We first pointed out back in January of 2014 when venture capitalists first started to grow overly speculative and began to pour large sums of money into tech start-ups that the second tech bubble had arrived - at that time there were more than 30 companies in the US, Europe, and China that were valued at $1 billion or more by the private markets.
Our analysis was confirmed a year later when investment bankers had to deliver the news to Dropbox that there was no way it could IPO at its $10 billion private valuation, let alone provide any upside to recent investors.
Then in January of this year we pointed out that as markets were crashing, more and more "unicorns" (companies with a private valuation in excess of $1 billion) were going to be forced to raise capital at lower valuations, and these down rounds would eventually lead to firms having to admit that they'd have to go to market at a much more humble valuation than once thought.
Only one month later, we showed that the bursting of the bubble had made its way to the real economy by way of mass layoffs at all of these once up and coming technology companies. One executive recruiter said at the time "I think what we're seeing is bigger than a small correction. Everyone thinks it will be different this time, but it never is."
And finally, just today we reported that the aggregate of all of the aforementioned events has now made its way into Silicon Valley's real estate market. Luxury homes are now staying on the market longer, and the reality is finally starting to hit home: "The peak is behind us, and that's becoming clearer and clearer to builders and buyers" said an agent of real estate consultancy John Burns.

We Are Now Seeing An Unwind of Faith Of Central Banks: Mike “Mish” Shedlock