Friday, May 27, 2016

More Big Retailers Say ‘No’ to GMO Salmon

(ECOWATCH)  On the heels of Canada’s approval of GMO salmon, Friends of the Earth U.S. and a coalition of more than 30 consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups released updated numbers Wednesday showing that nearly 80 major food retailers have committed to not sell genetically engineered salmon, despite FDA’s approval last November.
“Despite irresponsible approvals, the growing number of commitments from retailers demonstrates there is no market for GMO salmon,” Dana Perls, senior food and technology campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said. “Retailers and restaurants are wisely listening to their customers and rejecting GMO salmon.”
Albertsons Companies, owner of Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, ACME, Shaw’s and others, stated its commitment to not sell GMO salmon.
“Albertsons Companies and its family of stores, have no plans to carry GE salmon,” Jonathan Mayes, Albertsons Companies senior vice president, said in a statement. “The seafood products we offer will continue to be selected consistent with our Responsible Seafood Policy and our partnership with FishWise.”
Albertsons Companies, which acquired Safeway in January 2015, continued Safeway’s policy on sustainable seafood and GMO salmon for all of its banner stores.
With Albertsons Companies banner stores, a total of more than 79 grocery retailers with more than 11,000 stores have now made commitments to not sell the GMO salmon, including Albertsons, Safeway, Costco, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, along with restaurant chains including Red Lobster and Legal Sea Foods.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, and Publix are among the last remaining large retail grocers in the U.S. that have not said publicly whether or not they will sell GMO salmon.
A growing body of science suggests that GMO salmon may pose serious environmental and public health risks, including potentially irreversible damage to wild salmon populations.
In the wake of controversy over the U.S. approval, the U.S. has put in place an import ban on GMO salmon until labeling standards are established. The day after Canada’s announcement, Provincial Fisheries Minister of Nova Scotia announced the province will ban the farming of GMO fish.

Study finds organic crops boost local economies

Photo Credit Rusty Clark Flickr
Photo Credit Rusty Clark Flickr

The production of organic foods helps lower poverty and increase household incomes in rural America, according to a Penn State University study released Wednesday.
The study by agricultural economist Ted Jaenicke found that organic hot spots — counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity whose neighboring counties also have high organic activity — increased median household incomes by an average of $2,000 and reduced poverty levels by an average of 1.3 percentage points.
In Iowa, there were six counties highlighted as organic hot spots: Allamakee, Clayton, Dubuque, Howard, Johnson and Fayette. Nationwide, 225 counties were identified as hot spots, or about 7 percent of all U.S. counties. 
“I’m pretty optimistic that it might provide a new way of thinking about organic agriculture,” Jaenicke said.
He started researching organic because he was curious about the effect it had on local economies. The “strong and robust” impact of organic was much larger than he thought, Jaenicke said.
Jaenicke tabulated the results by identifying the quantity of organic farms and economic activity in the area. He then removed other factors influencing the local economy to gauge organic’s impact. He did not receive funding from the industry for his research.
While his study did not assess why organic benefited area economies, he speculated the reasons it does include the need for more labor and use of locally sourced inputs. Organic crops also typically command a significant premium compared to traditional crops, often paying the producer several times as much.
Laura Batcha, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, said the group was hopeful the data would spur policymakers, including state officials and lawmakers in Washington working on the next farm bill, to invest more in organic agriculture. She acknowledged organic isn’t the only solution to helping area economies.

Greece’s 5y default probability jumps >50% as debt relief will become possible only after end of bailout mid-2018.

's 5y default probability jumps >50% as debt relief will become possible only after end of bailout mid-2018.

Confirmed, The Entire Economic System Is One Big Manipulation

 Europe unemployment is manipulated just like the US. The private central bank countries are all manipulating the data. More young Americans live with their parents than at any time since the great depression. Layoffs continue, major corporation are continually laying off employees. Tiffany sales decline and the retail apocalypse continues. Service sector tumbles. Baltic Dry Index declines. State tax revenue declines showing that the quality and the number of jobs have declined dramatically.


 Bankers are at it again, using their unlimited power to steal from you. Markets are powering ahead, wiil they continue? What does the rest of the week look like?

Our Poverty Myth

If you’re poor, many Americans think, it’s your own fault. It’s a sign of your own moral failing.
I don’t personally believe that, but the idea has roots in our culture going back centuries.
In The Wealth of Nations, the foundational work of modern capitalism, Adam Smith extolled the virtues of working hard and being thrifty with money. That wasn’t just the way to get rich, he reasoned — it was morally righteous.
Sociologist Max Weber took the idea further in describing what he called the Protestant work ethic.
To Puritans who believed that one was either predestined for heaven or for hell, Weber wrote, working hard and accumulating wealth was a sign of God’s blessing. Those who got rich, the Puritans thought, must have been chosen by God for heaven; those who were poor were damned.
(Photo: Shutterstock)
Even major American philanthropists have subscribed to this idea.
John D. Rockefeller, a religious Baptist, thought his extraordinary wealth was evidence from God of his righteousness. Fortunately, he took this as a sign that he should use his money for good. He gave it to universities and medical research centers, and his descendants used it for great art museums, national parks, and more.
But Rockefeller also believed that the poor were often deserving of their fate. If they’d just worked harder, or budgeted their money wisely, then they wouldn’t be poor.
Plenty of Americans agree. Sadly, that’s often not the case.
The first factor determining one’s wealth as an adult is an accident of birth. If you’re born to wealthy parents, you’ll go to better schools and get better health care. Your odds of success as an adult are higher.
If, on other hand, you’re born to poor parents who must work multiple jobs instead of staying home to care for you — or who can’t afford healthy food, medical care, or a house in a good school district — your chances of earning your way into the middle class as an adult plummet.
In fact, if your parents’ income is in the bottom 20 percent, there’s a 40 percent chance you’ll be stuck in that low-income bracket for your entire life. Thanks to racism, that figure rises to 50 percent for black people born into poverty.
Indeed, racial disparities crop up even at the bottom of the ladder.
Due to historic racism and discrimination, data from the Economic Policy Institute shows, low-income white families tend to be wealthier than black families making the same income. Furthermore, whites are more likely to have friends and family who can help them out of a financial bind.
Finally, thanks to decades of discriminatory housing and lending practices, black families are more likely to live in poorer neighborhoods. That impacts the quality of the schools they attend, among many other things.
So why can’t a hardworking family get ahead? For one thing, it’s expensive to be poor.
Try finding an affordable place to live. You need to have enough cash on hand to pay a deposit. Many apartments require you to prove your income is 2.5 times the cost of the rent.
Public assistance programs only help the most destitute, and often don’t provide enough even then.
For the disabled, the situation is worse. In theory, Social Security provides for those with disabilities. In reality, getting approved for disability payments is costly (in both medical and legal fees) and difficult. Once you get approved, disability payments are low, condemning you to poverty for life.
In short, there are many reasons why poor Americans are poor. It doesn’t help that our society thinks it’s their own fault.
The post Our Poverty Myth appeared first on OtherWords.
This piece was reprinted from Other Words by RINF Alternative News with permission.

Iconic, Independent Grocery Chain Will Close All Stores In Maryland


Mars Super Markets, a family-owned fixture in Baltimore’s grocery landscape since the 1940s, will close its stores this summer, laying off hundreds of employees amid declining sales and intense competition.
While Weis Markets agreed this week to buy five of the chain’s 13 stores, the eight remaining stores will close July 31, Rosedale-based Mars said Wednesday.
“As you all know, the company has been struggling with declining sales for several years,” Chris D’Anna, Mars chairman and CEO, wrote in a memo to employees obtained Wednesday by The Baltimore Sun. “We have tried cutting costs everywhere we can while preserving jobs and benefits, but it has not been enough.”
Competition is cutthroat in the razor-thin margin world of grocery sales, and analysts say Mars struggled to keep up with emerging trends.
“The industry has changed so much since 1943,” said Jeremy Diamond, director of food brokerage company the Diamond Marketing Group. “The grocers that don’t evolve and don’t change with the times won’t survive. You have to adapt and change, especially in the grocery industry.”
Analysts said the D’Anna family has been trying for some time to sell the chain founded by Joseph D’Anna in 1943, while cutting costs to keep its stores afloat. But the state of the company and the competitive environment left the company with no alternate course, D’Anna said in the memo.
Mars employs 1,102 people at its stores, including 519 at the locations in Arbutus, Carney, Dundalk and Essex that Weis is buying. Weis agreed to interview Mars employees for positions at the five stores and expects to hire most of them, said Kurt Schertle, Weis’ chief operating officer.
The chain’s remaining stores are in northeast Baltimore, Cockeysville, Edgewood, Ellicott City, Lutherville-Timonium, Rosedale, Reisterstown and Perry Hall.

Hungary cuts rates for the 3rd time this year, the 105th central bank easing measure of 2015-16

Hungary cuts rates for the 3rd time this year, the 105th central bank easing measure of 2015-16.

China To Replace Dollar System With Gold Standard

by Sean Adl-Tabatabai
China secretly makes plans to replace US dollar system with a gold standard
China is silently preparing to replace the U.S. dollar system with a new gold standard, as Western currencies such as the Euro and Dollar plunge. 
The Chinese government have begun purchasing gold mines around the world in an effort to dominate the market.
If we look more closely at all the steps of the Beijing government since the global financial crisis of 2008 and especially since their creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the BRICS New Development Bank, the bilateral national currency energy agreements with Russia bypassing the dollar, it becomes clear that Zhou and the Beijing leadership have a long-term strategy.
As British economist David Marsh pointed out in reference to the recent Paris Nanjing II remarks of Zhou,

“China is embarking, pragmatically but steadily, towards enshrining a multi-currency reserve system at the heart of the world’s financial order.”
Since China’s admission into the IMF select group of SDR currencies last November, the multi-currency system, which China calls “4+1,” would consist of the euro, sterling, yen and renminbi (the 4), co-existing with the dollar. These are the five constituents of the SDR.
To strengthen the recognition of the SDR, Zhou’s Peoples’ Bank of China has begun to publish its foreign reserves total–the world’s biggest–in SDRs as well as dollars.
A golden future
Russia and China are not deer in Western headlights. They are moving forward…at a faster pace now.
Yet the Chinese alternative to the domination of the US dollar is about far more than paper SDR currency basket promotion.
China is clearly aiming at the re-establishment of an international gold standard, presumably one not based on the bankrupt Bretton Woods Dollar-Gold exchange that President Richard Nixon unilaterally ended in August, 1971 when he told the world they would have to swallow paper dollars in the future and could no longer redeem them for gold.
At that point global inflation, measured in dollar terms, began to soar in what future economic historians will no doubt dub The Greatest Inflation.
By one estimate, the dollars in worldwide circulation rose by some 2,500% between 1970 and 2000. Since then the rise has clearly brought it well over 3,000%. Without a legal requirement to back its dollar printing by a pre-determined fixed amount of gold, all restraints were off in a global dollar inflation.
So long as the world is forced to get dollars to settle accounts for oil, grain, other commodities, Washington can write endless checks with little fear of them bouncing, stamped “insufficient funds.”
Combined with the fact that over that same time span since 1971 there has been a silent coup of the Wall Street banks to hijack any and all semblance of representative democracy and Constitution-based rules, we have the mad money machine, much like the German poet Goethe’s 18th Century fable, Sorcerers’ Apprentice, or in German, Der Zauberlehrling. Dollar creation is out of control.
Since 2015 China is moving very clearly to replace London and New York and the western gold futures price-setting exchanges. As I noted in a longer analysis in this space in August, 2015, China, together with Russia, is making major strides to back their currencies with gold, to make them “as good as gold,” while currencies like the debt-bloated Euro or the debt-bloated bankrupt dollar zone, struggle.
In May 2015, China announced it had set up a state-run Gold Investment Fund. The aim was to create a pool, initially of $16 billion making it the world’s largest physical gold fund, to support gold mining projects along the new high-speed railway lines of President Xi’s New Economic Silk Road or One Road, One Belt as it is called.
Silk road undergoing massive technological upgrades, and will include a defense system
As China expressed it, the aim is to enable the Eurasian countries along the Silk Road to increase the gold backing of their currencies.
The countries along the Silk Road and within the BRICS happen to contain most of the world’s people and natural and human resources utterly independent of any the West has to offer.
In May 2015, China’s Shanghai Gold Exchange formally established the “Silk Road Gold Fund.” The two main investors in the new fund were China’s two largest gold mining companies–Shandong Gold Group who bought 35% of the shares and Shaanxi Gold Group with 25%.
The fund will invest in gold mining projects along the route of the Eurasian Silk Road railways, including in the vast under-explored parts of the Russian Federation.
A little-known fact is that no longer is South Africa the world’s gold king. It is a mere number 7 in annual gold production. China is Number One and Russia Number Two.
On May 11, just before creation of China’s new gold fund, China National Gold Group Corporation signed an agreement with the Russian gold mining group, Polyus Gold, Russia’s largest gold mining group, and one of the top ten in the world. The two companies will explore the gold resources of what is to date Russia’as largest gold deposit at Natalka in the far eastern part of Magadan’s Kolyma District.
Recently, the Chinese government and its state enterprises have also shifted strategy. Today, as of March 2016 official data, China holds more than $3.2 trillion in foreign currency reserves at the Peoples’ bank of China, of which it is believed approximately 60% or almost $2 trillion are dollar assets such as US Treasury bonds or quasi-government bonds such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage bonds.
Instead of investing all its dollar earnings from trade surpluses into increasingly inflated and worthless US government debt, China has launched a global asset buying strategy.
Now it happens that prime on the Beijing foreign asset “to buy” shopping list are gold mines around the world. Despite a recent slight rise in the gold price since January, gold is still at 5 year-lows and many quality proven mining companies are cash-starved and forced into bankruptcy. Gold is truly at the beginning of a renaissance.

Obama Admin Deletes Conflict Of Interest Disclosures For Top Bureaucrats [VIDEO]

Conflict of interest disclosure reports filed by top federal officials were removed from public view by the Obama administration in recent months, a move that government transparency and accountability advocates condemn as a major setback.
The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) reports are the primary tool that watchdog journalists, political activists and interested voters can use to guard against presidential appointees using their positions to enrich themselves or others.

For years, the OGE website featured a sortable, searchable list of over 1,000 government appointees, including their names, agencies and titles, and flagging new ones. By clicking on a name, users could easily access multiple disclosures for the appointee, including yearly financial accounting, stock ownership and a letter detailing any agreements surrounding conflicts, such as issues when the individual promises to recuse himself. By January, the list was inexplicably removed, leaving only a search box. That action severely reduced the chance of officials’ finances being scrutinized because it became necessary to know the name of a person and have a reason to want to look up that individual, as opposed to, for example, looking for listings from an agency of interest.
Now, even that capability is gone, along with almost all references to actually seeing the disclosures. Thousands of PDFs have also been deleted, leaving dead links.
OGE referred press calls to Seth Jaffe, who didn’t respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s query placed on Monday.
“This is a problem,” Daniel Schuman, a policy analyst at the liberal group Demand Progress, told TheDCNF. “They should put it back. It’s very odd there’s no explanation.”
John Wonderlich, head of the transparency group the Sunlight Foundation, called it a “big step backward,” saying “the administration should be demonstrating how digital disclosure should strengthen our accountability systems, and creating barriers to access is the opposite of progress.”
Previously, Sunlight had praised President Barack Obama, who had pledged at the outset of his first term in the Oval Office to have the “most transparent [administration] in history.”
The OGE documents also include “ethics waivers,” documents that showed despite Obama making pledges such as not to appoint former lobbyists, this was frequently done.
Thanks to the disclosures, the public recently learned that Secretary of State John Kerry has millions invested in offshore tax havens. The disclosures also showed that Medicare chief Andy Slavitt took actions relating to firms he had financial ties to, and that he got a waiver to do so.
OGE’s role as an independent entity is important in serving as a check against self-interested departments. The disclosures showed that the Medicare agency lied about Slavitt getting preferential tax treatment.
They also showed a former union lawyer who was appointed to head a labor relations agency steered lucrative contracts to his old law firm despite signing an agreement saying he “will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which Bredhoff & Kaiser is a party or represents a party unless I am first authorized.”
The site’s menu now says nothing about viewing disclosures, but buried several clicks in to a section called “Media” allows you to fill out a form requiring highly specific information about a person and the disclosure you are requesting.
When TheDCNF called to inquire about the change, the form had to be sent in via snail mail. Soon after the call, they added a cumbersome online form that was submitted to an employee who supposedly would send the documents several days later.
TheDCNF filled out the form and several days later, got rejected without explanation.
“The records that you requested are not maintained in the Office of Government Ethics. Please contact the employing agency/agencies for these records,” Irene Houston wrote.
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SECRET: Saudi Arabia Selling U.S. Treasuries to Make Up for Oil Price Falling!

Deutsche Bank to settle U.S. silver price-fixing litigation | Reuters…
U.S. Discloses Saudi Holdings of Treasuries for First Time – Bloomberg…
Saudi Arabia’s Secret Holdings of U.S. Debt Are Suddenly a Big Deal – Bloomberg…
Pizza Hut Adding Pepper Robots to Restaurants in Asia | News & Opinion |…
That guy that’s in charge of america…. – YouTube…

Why Governments Hate It When Other Countries Have Low Taxes

While international bureaucrats enjoy tax-free salaries, they never tire of trying to raise taxes on everyone else.

During a visit to the World Bank this week, I got a sobering lesson about the degree to which the people working at international bureaucracies, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, dislike tax competition.

For years, these organizations—which are funded with our hard-earned tax dollars—have bullied low-tax nations into changing their tax privacy laws so uncompetitive nations can track taxpayers and companies around the world. The global bureaucrats want to rewrite the rules of international commerce to protect uncompetitive nations, such as France, from the consequences of reckless fiscal policy.
The bureaucracies, which are controlled by high-tax nations, don't like it when companies, investors and entrepreneurs invest their capital in low-tax nations.
They have a point. Tax competition means that taxpayers can shop around for the best place to invest money based on a variety of factors, including the tax treatment of their investment. As a result, capital will most likely flow out of high-tax nations to go to a low-tax environment. And that's a good thing.
As Nobel laureate Gary Becker wrote, "competition among nations tends to produce a race to the top rather than to the bottom by limiting the ability of powerful and voracious groups and politicians in each nation to impose their will at the expense of the interests of the vast majority of their populations."
It was the friendly but fierce tax competition between then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and President Ronald Reagan in the United States that led to significant reductions in top marginal income tax rates in both countries, as well as a cut to the corporate rate. Arguably, the cuts unleashed the economic growth of the '90s and led other countries to cut their taxes, too. This is why, as another Nobel laureate, James Buchanan, said, "tax competition among separate units ... is an objective to be sought in its own right."
In most cases, investing in low-tax nations isn't illegal; the problem for high-tax nations and those at the World Bank is that it's getting in the way of maximum tax extractions for countries such as France. They also claim that their fight against tax competition is a fight against tax evasion. However—as we have seen after the release of the Panama Papers, which were stolen from Panama-based firms—for the most part, taxpayers are pretty honest. Politicians, not so much.
Now, some people do evade taxes by investing their assets in low-tax countries. However, that's no reason to force low-tax countries to act as deputy tax collectors. Investors have committed no crime in the country where the money is invested, and low-tax nations shouldn't have to enforce other countries' tax laws unless they sign a tax treaty for that purpose. Second, a more effective way to fight evasion would be for high-tax nations to implement a reasonable and non-punitive tax code that finances a modest-sized, non-corrupt government. This would instantly improve tax compliance.
Translation: If France is upset about tax evasion, it should cut the size of its government and reform its confiscatory tax regime. Forcing financial institutions to automatically share the private information of all their foreign clients won't solve anything.
While international bureaucrats enjoy tax-free salaries, they never tire of trying to raise taxes on everyone else. Take the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's latest attempt to impose a one-size-fits-all system of "automatic information exchange" that would necessitate the complete evisceration of financial privacy around the world. A goal of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters is to impose a global network of data collection and dissemination to allow high-tax nations to double-tax and sometimes triple-tax economic activity worldwide. That would be a perfect tax harmonization scheme for politicians and a nightmare for taxpayers and the global economy.
This is bad policy regardless, but just imagine what it would mean for the United States to exchange sensitive financial information—such as balances, interest, dividends and proceeds from sales of financial assets—about American citizens or corporations with countries that have systemic problems with corruption or aren't so friendly to us.
Somehow the bureaucrats persuaded the lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to approve it. Thankfully, it's currently being blocked by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah. But the bureaucrats won't give up. They are true believers in tax harmonization.



Here we go again… 
First-time buyers and low- to moderate-income buyers have largely been sidelined by today’s housing recovery.
The common cry is too-tight credit. Lenders have kept the credit box restrictive because they are gun-shy from the billions of dollars in buy backs and judicial settlements stemming from the mortgage crisis that they still face today. Now, the nation’s largest lender, Wells Fargo, says it is opening that box with a new low down payment loan — a loan it claims is low-risk to the bank.
“We are fully underwriting the borrowers, we are partnering with Fannie Mae to originate and sell these loans, we are insuring the borrowers have an ability to repay and that they’re qualified for home ownership, but we’re simplifying things for the homebuyer,” said Brad Blackwell, executive vice president and portfolio business manager at Wells Fargo.
Record numbers of people buying homes at all time high prices as macros head down. Be interesting to see how these folks feel in 2-3 years.
Looking at housing, which historically rises 1.5% per YEAR:
2008 saw record bubble housing prices. Fraud triggers a crash in housing prices. Less than 10 years later, prices are higher than they were in 2008 but the economy never recovered.
So………..SOMEONE is saying, “no, no, no, housing prices should have been that high in 2008 regardless of the fraud. 9% rises in home prices YOY is perfectly legit. Now, did you want fixed or adjustable? Adjustable would be great for you.”

Americans Bought The Most New Homes In 8 Years Just As The Median Price Hit An All Time High

Bank in the UK? Plans afoot to make YOU liable for bank fraud

Wonder whose idea that was...

Night scene of bank station in central london

Bank customers may be obliged to bear the bill for fraud against their accounts, under proposed changes under consideration between banks, the UK government and GCHQ.
Under the plans, individuals or companies with poor online security could be “frozen out of banking services or even excluded from the system whereby banks compensate customers whose accounts are hacked”, the Financial Times reports.
UK banks - unlike those in the US - routinely cover the costs of online fraud, at least in cases where customer negligence (such as sharing PIN codes or cards with third parties) is excluded. Pushing the burden of fraudulent losses towards customers is likely to be hugely controversial. Bankers’ bonuses in the wake of taxpayer-funded bailouts of several banks in 2008 have already caused a huge series of rows and radical changes in liability for online banking fraud through phishing and banking trojans is likely to be even more contentious.
The circumstances suggest that ministers are floating an idea they already know is controversial, even politically unpalatable. If anything comes to light it's likely to be much diluted.
Some security vendors - normally cheerleaders for UK government security plans - have already expressed opposition to the possible banking liability shake-up.
Olov Renberg, the founder of behavioural biometrics firm BehavioSec, commented: “It troubles me that bank customers could soon be forced to cover the bill and take liability for fraudulent activity on their accounts. Time and time again government schemes and individual enterprises have tried to teach consumers the best practices of operating online, yet online fraud continues to rise – why?
"It’s not because of a lack of awareness. Quite simply, security is no longer a consumer’s number one priority when operating online. Today we prioritise convenience online – meaning laborious tasks such as multiple authentication processes are often side-stepped.
“If banks want to reduce fraud for their customers, they need to avoid making consumers the gatekeepers of their own security. If they [banks] are selling consumers convenience and always-on availability, then they need to take on the bulk of the security burden themselves and implement security measures that accurately authenticate users without forcing them through frustrating, inefficient authentication barriers,” he added.
A study by British industry group Financial Action Fraud shows that losses stemming from financial fraud involving payment cards, checks and remote banking hit £755m in 2015, up 26 per cent on the previous year. ®

Here are the cracks that are starting to show in the U.S. economy

From Justin Brill, Editor, Stansberry Digest:
The Federal Reserve is “obsessed” with the stock market…
So says Marc “Dr. Doom” Faber, economist, investor, and editor of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report.
Like us, Faber believes the Fed is more concerned about whether the market is rising or falling than the economic data it purports to follow closely.
In fact, he thinks last week’s coordinated announcements about a potential June rate hike were meant to test the market’s response. As he explained in an interview with financial-news network CNBC last week…
[The Fed] said a rate hike is on the table so they can watch the market reaction. If we are, in June, 10% to 20% lower in stocks and bond yields are up, they’re not going to move. If, on the other hand, the market is relatively stable and moves up from here… they will probably move. They’re very much market dependent in my opinion.
While the official measures like unemployment, economic growth, and inflation are at or near the Fed’s stated goals, Faber doesn’t think the economy is as healthy as those numbers suggest. More from the interview…
My sense is that the economy is, in some sectors, hardly growing. The retail-sales figures are very suspicious and the employment figures are also suspicious. The difficulty is, can you trust the published data, whether that is in the U.S., in Europe, or in China? Of course I don’t.
Like several other notable investors we’ve heard from recently, “Dr. Doom” is especially bullish on gold stocks. But like us, he also believes proper asset allocation is critical today…
The most attractive asset in my view is gold shares… I think they still have significant upside potential this year… You need to be diversified. To own some real estate makes sense, to own some equities makes sense, to own some cash and bonds probably makes sense, and to own some precious metals makes sense.
Speaking of the economy, new data last week showed one of the job market’s early warning signs could be flashing. Staffing firms say hiring of temporary workers – one of the biggest drivers of job growth over the past several years – has suddenly slowed.
Why is this important? Because temps tend to be a strong leading indicator of the health of the broad economy… They’re often the first employees companies add when the economy strengthens, and the first that companies let go when it starts to weaken.
The Wall Street Journal reports we saw a similar slowdown in temp hiring before each of the past two recessions. As Donald Grimes, a labor economist at the University of Michigan, told the Journal
It’s the first sector that really begins to lose jobs. If you start seeing those numbers go negative, you’ve got a real problem.
Meanwhile, our colleagues Steve Sjuggerud and Brett Eversole recently noted another troubling sign for the job market…
Initial jobless claims – a measure of the number of new folks applying for unemployment each week – just broke out to a new one-year high… And their research shows this could be bad news for U.S. stocks. As they explained to subscribers in last week’s True Wealth Systems Market Extremes
Stocks actually lose value when Initial Jobless Claims trend higher. And Initial Jobless Claims recently broke out to a one-year high. Take a look…

According to history this move is enough to push Initial Jobless Claims into an uptrend. And history shows that stocks lose 2.0% a year when the trend is up in Initial Jobless Claims.
Obviously, this is a bad thing for U.S. stocks. If this trend continues, it could mean the end of the bull market.
Steve and Brett said they aren’t ready to give up on the bull market just yet. It’s still a little early to know if an uptrend has begun, but they’ll be watching for confirmation in the weeks to come…
Jobless Claims data are notoriously “messy.” So the recent reading could be an anomaly, not the beginning of a new trend. However, we’ll be watching U.S. employment closely going forward. A continued employment breakdown could mean a recession is on the way. And stocks suffer their biggest losses during recessions…
The U.S. economy and the trend in stocks will be major factors in how we invest in the next few months. And this breakout in Initial Jobless Claims is an important piece of that puzzle. It says to be cautious of the U.S. market today.
Troubles in the job market aren’t the only new worries for stocks…
According to Bloomberg Business, the five-year “binge” in share buybacks could be over. (If you’re not familiar, share buybacks are when companies purchase their own shares in the market and “retire” them. This reduces the number of shares outstanding and makes each remaining share more valuable.) From the article…
After snapping up trillions of dollars of their own stock in a five-year shopping binge that dwarfed every other buyer, U.S. companies from Apple to IBM just put on the brakes. Announced repurchases dropped 38% to $244 billion in the last four months, the biggest decline since 2009, data compiled by Birinyi Associates and Bloomberg show.
The number of companies cutting dividends has also soared to the highest levels since the financial crisis.
As we’ve discussed, share buybacks are a double-edged sword.
Under the right circumstances – particularly when shares are trading at a discount to the value of the underlying business – they can be great for investors.
But most of the time, this isn’t the case… Just like most individual investors get bullish when the market rallies and bearish when the market falls, corporate executives often choose to buy back shares after they’ve rallied and are expensive.
Worse, as real earnings have slowed in recent years, management teams have been incentivized to buy back more and more shares regardless of price. They’ve even been loading up on debt to keep the party going.
Again, this is because buybacks reduce the number of shares outstanding. By reducing share counts, the same amount of earnings is magically transformed into higher earnings per share, Wall Street’s favorite metric of profit growth.
Now it appears the slowdown in earnings may have finally reached a tipping point.
Companies may no longer be willing or able to take on more debt to buy back shares and pay dividends… meaning one of the biggest drivers of the stock market rally could be about to disappear. As Commonwealth Financial Network Chief Investment Officer Brad McMillan told Bloomberg…
If the only meaningful source of demand in the market is companies buying their own shares back, then what happens if that goes away? We should be concerned.
Regular Digest readers may recall Porter predicted exactly this scenario last summer. As he wrote in the September 4 Digest
It should be obvious to everyone that companies can’t spend more buying back shares and paying out dividends than they earn – at least not for long…
The last time the S&P 500 managers collectively spent more than they were earning on shares and dividends was the second quarter of 2007. Just a few months before the market’s last peak. The managers’ spending reached 156% of their free cash flow in the fourth quarter of 2007. You may recall the last big stock market peak was in November of 2007…
The more important thing to understand is that, when they are spending more collectively than they’re earning, their buying power is immense – enough to move the market higher by itself. When they stop buying, it’s almost certain the market will fall. And they can’t keep spending more than they’re earning, not for long.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on these warning signs for stocks and the economy… We recommend you do the same.
Justin Brill

The Anger of the Unprivileged Is Rising Globally

by Charles Hugh-Smith 
Privilege serves the same purpose–benefiting the few at the expense of the many–regardless of the system’s ideological labels.
The righteous disgust with the status quo that spawned the broad-based campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is not unique to the U.S.Globally, those disenfranchised by the status quo–the unprivileged, or in Peggy Noonan’s phrase, the unprotected— are starting to express their discontent in the streets, in social media and in elections.
Why are people around the world angry? It’s obvious to everyone in the unprivileged classes and a mystery to the “we’re doing just fine here, what’s your problem?” privileged classes: The system is rigged to benefit the protected few and marginalize the unprotected many.
The problems are not just political; they are structural. As I outline in my new book, Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform, there are two structural engines of disorder at the heart of the system:
1. Automation, software and the forces of globalization are disrupting jobs and wages everywhere.
2. Centralized hierarchies and the forces of financialization have extended the power of privilege globally so the few are benefiting at the expense of the many, as revealed in this chart of global wealth:

The growing concentration of wealth and power in the privileged elites is evidenced by the fact that 8% of the world’s populace owns 85% of its wealth.What is driving this increasing concentration of wealth and power? In a word:Privilege.
To understand rising wealth/income disparity and the increasing concentration of wealth, we must first understand the dual nature of privilege.Just as power comes in two flavors–hard power (military power) and soft power(exporting cultural wares and values)–so does privilege.
Hard-wired privileges are those that grant the holder of an office or position in the hierarchy specific rights to accumulate income, wealth and political powerthat are not available to the unprivileged. Officials in corrupt countries gain the right to collect fees from citizens as a direct result of their official position. Financiers in the U.S. have access to unlimited credit at low rates (free money for financiers) as a direct result of their position atop the financial pyramid.
Field-effect (“soft”) privileges are defined by class and access rather than by the hard-wired authority of office or position in a formal hierarchy. Field-effect privileges include: enhanced access to Ivy League higher education granted to children of alumni and major donors; membership in exclusive clubs; access to “old boy” networks of alumni and partners, and so on.
Field-effect (“soft”) privileges are one primary reason why the income of the top 20% has risen from 40% of total U.S. income to 51% in the past two decades. In a rapidly financializing, globalized economy, those with access to higher education, class connections and abundant credit have built-in advantages over those without all three advantages, which are self-reinforcing.
(I use the term field-effect to suggest that these privileges act like electrical fields, affecting all within their range, often without the privileged even being aware of their privileges. Hence the upper-middle penchant for overlooking all their class advantages and attributing their success to hard work. Well, yes, but that’s not the entire story: we must also measure the often-subtle benefits of field-effect privileges.)
Over time, these privileges accrue substantial income and wealth: the 10% difference between 40% and 50% of total household income is $1.4 trillion per year. In the past decade, that means the top 20% has gained about $12 trillion more in income than it would have if its share of total household income had remained at 40%.
(Income data source: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014)
Having an Ivy League (or equivalent top-tier public university) diploma is a plus, but it doesn’t provide a wealth of self-reinforcing privileges unless it is combined with upper-class connections and networks and easy access to credit (to scoop up productive assets on the cheap). Together, these field-effect privileges create synergies that concentrate wealth and power.
Interestingly, privilege serves the same purpose–benefiting the few at the expense of the many–regardless of the system’s ideological labels. Socialist, Communist and free-market elites loot their populaces and national wealth with equal gusto. Those who came to do good and stayed to do well first accumulate privileges, which they then leverage into wealth and power.
The grievances of Chinese workers robbed of their wages, Greek small-business owners burdened by ever-rising taxes, downsized corporate warriors in the U.S., etc. may appear to be different, but beneath the surface these grievances all arise from one source: unearned privileges that benefit the few at the expense of the many.
The only way to eliminate social and economic injustice is to eliminate privilege, which is the heart of my book A Radically Beneficial World.

Federal Agencies Wasting Billions Of Dollars On Old Technology


Bill Bonner: How the Deep State cronies steal from you…

From Bill Bonner, Chairman, Bonner & Partners:
DUNMORE EAST, Ireland – We came down the coast from Dublin to check on our new office building.
For this visit, we wanted to stay somewhere different than we normally do. So we chose a small hotel on the coast, called the Strand Inn.
It is an excellent place for seafood and soda bread on a rainy day. Later, you can go to the bar, get in your cups, and sing sad songs about dead Irish heroes.
Ireland has a literate, educated population. It is pleasant… pretty… and has a low corporate tax rate. So, we are expanding here.
Apparently, companies escape taxes by moving their headquarters or their technology overseas. We would do the same, but we’ve never been able to figure out how it saves any tax money.
Owners end up paying tax in their home countries. And Americans pay U.S. taxes no matter where the money is actually generated.
Regardless, we bought a large, 19th-century mansion in the aftermath of Ireland’s real estate bust… which took average property prices down by more than one-third.
It seemed like a good deal. But every real estate investment we ever made has turned out to cost more… and take more time… than we imagined. This time is no exception.
Still, it is a handsome, capacious place, which will house more than 150 employees.
The Irish have charming and understandable accents. Many of these employees will be answering calls from all over the world. So, if you call us after September, your call might be routed to County Waterford.

High on the Hog

Now, back to the Deep State…
Much of its growth is recorded in the pages of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This tracks all the laws laid down by successive governments.
A privilege… a special tax break… a rule… a prohibition… a piece of meat here, a piece of meat there… and soon the foxes are eating high on the hog.
But what’s meat for the foxes is poison for the economy.
Each piece requires paperwork, delays, permits, accountants, lawyers. You can’t do this… you can’t do that – with so many hurdles in their way, entrepreneurs think twice, capital investment declines, and the economy slows.
Each favor to the foxes is an act of larceny… taking something away from the people who earned it to redistribute wealth, power, and status to the insiders.
From fewer than 25,000 pages when President Eisenhower left the White House, the CFR now has nearly 200,000 pages – each one a honeypot for Deep State cronies.
And who reads this stuff?
Do you know what rules and regulations you are breaking right now?
Most people are too busy earning their money and raising their families to spend much time tracking the federal bureaucracy and its cronies. But the foxes make it their business to pay attention… and make the rules that work for them.
An honest person is at a great disadvantage.

Rules and Regulations

Think you’re going to change this system by voting for Hillary or Trump, Democrat or Republican?
Maybe, but there’s no evidence of it in the CFR.
The number of pages kept rising, year after year, no matter who was in the White House.
Twenty-five thousand pages were added during the Kennedy and Johnson years… another 25,000 under Nixon and Ford… and another 25,000 during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.
Federal spending per capita shows the same basic trend, an almost unbroken uptrend – through Democratic and Republican administrations – stretching back from 2016 to 1952.
Under President Eisenhower, domestic discretionary spending per person was under $500. Today it’s over $4,500. Like the Federal Code, real spending per person has increased about nine times in the last 64 years.
There were two presidents under whom spending went down – Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Go figure.
In neither case, however, did it stay down for long. Once Reagan and Clinton were out of the way, the foxes went to work and quickly brought spending back to the trend line.
What will happen to the little foxes under Donald Trump? Or Hillary?
The earnings of the top 5% – the “foxy five” – began to diverge from the earnings of everybody else in the mid-1970s.
Since then, they increased alongside the FCR and government spending. Rules and regulations multiplied. Spending increased. The foxes got richer; everyone else got poorer.
All this happened through both Republican and Democratic administrations. Most likely the foxes will continue to earn more through a Trump or Clinton administration too.


Desperate Venezuela Begins to Sell Its Gold Reserves

Source: EPJ

Venezuela’s gold reserves have plunged to their lowest level on record after it sold $1.7 billion of the precious metal in the first quarter of the year to repay debts, reports FT.

The country’s gold reserves have dropped almost a third over the past year and it sold over 40 tons in February and March, according to IMF data.

Venezuela began selling its gold reserves in March 2015, according to IMF data. At roughly 367 tons, Venezuela had the world's 16th-biggest gold reserves, according to the World Gold Council. In contrast, China and Russia both added to their gold holdings this year, the data show.

The Venezuelan economy has been in freefall as a result of its socialist policies that have suffocated market activity and mad money printing going on by the Venezuelan central bank.

Ron Paul: We can do without the IRS, TSA and VA

Ron Paul said Tuesday that Americans would be better off without a trio of major government agencies.
“We can do without the IRS, we can do without the TSA and we can do without the VA and do a much better job,” he said of the Internal Revenue Service, the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
“We lived without the IRS for 135 years,” Paul added on Fox Business Network. "We’ve only had the TSA for a short period of time and it has done us no good except give us long lines. The VA is in shambles because bureaucracy doesn’t work.
“All of these are proof that bureaucratic management doesn’t work. Instead of trying to fix it, we should have an alternative.”
The IRS, TSA and VA have all made national headlines in recent weeks following controversies at each agency.
The House Judiciary Committee is consideringimpeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in hearings that start Tuesday. Read more: