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Market Orgy Ignores Middle Class Death Spiral

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What’s the difference between a flood tide and the bull market? The answer is that flood tides recede. Not this bull, however. Having long since decoupled from economic reality, the bull market that began in 2009 will soon enter its seventh year, presumably  accompanied by new record highs that have become almost as predictable as the next sunrise. This is occurring even as the U.S. economy continues to languish in what we euphemistically refer to as the Great Recession. When a reporter or pundit uses that term, the not-so-subtle implication is that the recession has yet to end for most middle class Americans. Workers have said as much when polled — not that Wall Street seems to have noticed.  The last few years have been an orgy for financiers, paper-shufflers and deal-makers in the U.S. and around the world. Exchange-listed companies have joined in the revelry, promiscuously borrowing untold billions for stock buybacks that push earnings per share higher without generating a dime’s worth of economic growth.

How long can the stock market continue to rise parabolically when the economy behind it is too feeble to boost incomes or create good jobs? No one can say for sure, but the spectacle has become wearying for those who have yet to have their boats floated, of which there many.  Their ranks will only swell as the largest tax hike in U.S. history, deceptively named the Affordable Care Act, hits more and more households. Not surprisingly, Obama suck-ups in the news media continue to ignore the deepening disaster, or to mischaracterize it with brazen lies such as this one, in the Boulder Daily Camera: “Coloradans are finding what appears to be a pleasant surprise: Average premiums are only increasing by 2 percent. The Affordable Care Act’s naysayers predicted ‘double-digit’ spikes or worse.”  Two percent??  What planet does this guy live on.  My own “pleasant surprise” came when Humana canceled my family policy and I learned that it would cost me 40% more to duplicate its benefits on an Obamacare exchange.

Nothing Left to Hock

The true picture is one of an American middle class in an incipient state of collapse. For a sobering statistical account of this in the Wall Street Journal, click here for Basic Costs Squeeze Families. Americans are broke, notwithstanding the debt-financed boom in auto sales and glowing reports of employment growth that ignore the subpar wages and part-time hours associated with most new jobs. With softening home prices starting to undermine the only significant source of financial leverage available to most households, it’s only a matter of time before the banking crisis of 2007-08 resumes with a vengeance.

Please do not ask trading questions!

  • John Jay December 14, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Jason,

    And all those 80,000 lb. big rigs destroyed the right two lanes on the 60 to the point where they had to be repaved.
    The Walton family gets the profits from Free Trade, and we get the bill!

  • Squire Danaher December 13, 2014, 3:08 am

    Rick, this is good stuff:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-12/peak-idiocy-cnn-urges-students-not-pay-down-student-loans-buy-stocks-instead

    They literally refer to eliminating their debts by way of a few mouse clicks on trades! Only in modern Amerika!

  • Jason S December 12, 2014, 8:15 pm

    I’ve wondered how we were going to get to a point of a deflationary death spiral in the face of Central Bank inflationary pressures. I think I finally see how we get there.

    In a world where everyone, everywhere is over indebted, there is now a currency war that is escalating as everyone tries to devalue at the same time. This is not mathematically possible in the world of fiat currencies and floating rates.

    As global growth slows and the demand side of the S/D equation wanes, this puts increasing pressure on debts and the need for greater central bank printing to facilitate their existing debt loads and subsidize their economies. This devaluation has to apply against something and that something will be the dollar since it is the reserve currency and the thing that most trade world-wide settles.

    It is estimated that there are $9+trillion in non-financial dollar based loans in foreign hands. As those countries begin ever increasing campaigns to inflate those dollar debtors will be screaming for dollars to hedge against their currency’s fall. Additionally, as inflation occurs due to printing (lowering rates, QE, subsidies, etc.) the local currency’s purchasing power shrinks. People will look to save rather than spend and save that in the one place that is showing strength, the US dollar.

    Dollars will be hoarded around the globe as a store of value. The hording is already happening through the misallocation of capital (greater percentage of wealth in the hands of the wealthy who don’t spend it, corporations who are not spending it and governments who are inefficient and irresponsible with it). This will all be exacerbated by billions of foreigners (governments and citizens alike) looking to hold dollars.

    Even with our Fed doing what they do, there will be a shortage of dollars vs. the demand and that will be felt most painfully by US residents as we will be last in line for those dollars. Even if the Fed prints at greater extremes, it will be more than offset by other countries doing the same with even more reckless abandon. They will run the risk of hyper inflation all the while throwing us into a deflationary death spiral.

    At some point those other countries who depreciated down to nothing will hit the reset button and their inflationary pressures will subside, creating more stability in other countries allowing their inflationary pressures to subside ushering in systemic stability. All at once all those horded dollars will repatriate and we will be hit with the second punch of high inflation following the massive deflation.

    Right now I don’t see much of a way out of this predicament as there isn’t a population boom or ubiquitous growth (like the industrial revolution) on the horizon close enough to grow us out of it. So it looks like the dollar hegemony that gave us 70 years of unparalleled growth will become the poison that brings us to our knees.

    Thoughts?

  • Redwilldanaher December 12, 2014, 5:01 pm

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-11/next-round-crisis-will-reveal-entire-system-based-fraud

    Only because we all know that everyone’s favorite would-be wordsmith is still reading at Rick’s while not being permitted to write.

  • Andy Gutterman December 12, 2014, 4:01 pm

    Last night the Republicans showed us what they consider most important:

    Bailing out Wall Street.

    They passed a budget that enables Wall Street to make bets using taxpayer money, that enables truck drivers to work 82 hour shifts, and exempts agricultural refuse from clean-water standards. Yep, you read that right; Congress is voting to both allow big corporate farms to poison the water and big trucking companies to run you over with drivers that are asleep at the wheel.

    Soon we will find out if there is ANY integrity left in Washington. If there is the Senate will not vote to pass this bill, or if they do then Obama will veto it.

    My expectation is neither will happen, and we will once again see that Washington is in cahoots with big business, on both sides of the aisle.

    As one of my friends said:

    In other words the Republicans wasted no time back stabbing and betraying the voters first chance they got.

    Andy

    &&&&&&

    Just business as usual, Andy. But sock it to the Fat Cats? Be careful what you wish for, since the ostensible health of Big Business — particular the banks — is crucial to the “recovery” hoax. Meanwhile, at this point the only backs the Republicans have stabbed are those of conservative Republicans like Ted Cruz.

    And should I infer that you think voters got it right when they trashed everything the Democrats stand for in November? If so, will Republicans be betraying voters when they sledgehammer Obamacare after January? RA

    • Squire Danaher December 13, 2014, 3:13 am

      How anyone can still believe that the Rethugs and Democrips are not merely owned henchmen for wall st. is beyond my comprehension.

      Under what “party’s” stewardship has wall st. not won and the people lost?

      Enough already.

  • John Jay December 12, 2014, 6:28 am

    Mario,

    Re: Eisenhower Interstate Highway spending

    Just imagine if all that TARP money had been spent on new water mains, sewer, and gas lines, instead of being handed over to a handful of big banks to cover their insane bets gone bad.
    And do not think at least a few Congressmen suggested that course of action but were laughed at and shouted down.

    The bribes accepted were so huge that even the fact that Americans were 100 to 1 against TARP could not shame them into doing the right thing.
    Ditto for their response to Fast and Furious, IRS/Lerner, and Obamacare.
    That would be no response at all.

    • mario December 12, 2014, 5:08 pm

      Preachin’ to the choir JJ…:)

      • John Jay December 12, 2014, 5:51 pm

        Mario,

        Preaching to the choir is better than yelling at myself in the mirror!

  • Andy Gutterman December 10, 2014, 3:34 pm

    I’ve been wondering for years HOW we are going to get deflation in an economy that is rigged from the start for inflation. (Same price, smaller product)

    I found the answer.

    https://www.internetretailer.com/2014/12/09/amazon-lets-marketplace-sellers-and-buyers-negotiate-prices

    Amazon.com Inc. wants some online shoppers to “Make an Offer” on the prices of some 150,000 items sold in the e-retailer’s sports, entertainment, coin and fine arts collectible web stores.

    Amazon is the clear leader of consumer behavior. We have all heard about shopping in a physical store, then checking the Amazon price on the phone and ordering from them. So the big box stores are responding, and lowering prices.

    What happens when consumers walk into BestBuy and start negotiating prices at the cash register? Perhaps to at or below cost?

    When does this spread to Kroger or Walmart?

    Deflation, anyone?

    Andy

    &&&&&&

    Were you aware that AMZN is starting to move in on the turf of Proctor & Gamble et al.? For starters, they’re targeting a major product category, offering a premium grade of disposable diaper — delivered to your door — for less than the competition charges. RA

    • mario December 10, 2014, 10:19 pm

      Hi Andy! Ah yes! You are referring to the return to a good old street merchant economy. It is still prevalent in Asia/China.

      You negotiate a deal on a big purchase like a house, yes? Seems ok, seems normal, seems reasonable. Who would suggest otherwise?

      You buy 2 items from a private shop owner, you pay. You buy 10 items that day, you say “hey boss, I’m buying lots of stuff, how about a little discount if I add a couple more items?” Why not? Why is this “bad”?

      So why not on your bananas at the fruit market or anything else you wish to purchase?

      And as far as whether such negotiating occurs in person or through e-commerce on Amazon, is secondary.

      Cheers, Mario

      • Andy Gutterman December 11, 2014, 12:07 am

        Mario,

        Except its Amazon leading the charge. I expect it to filter down into more conventional commerce because of Amazon. eBay does this as well but eBay does not have the impact that Amazon has.

        As a bookseller I’m very aware of negotiating discounts with buyers. I get that in the shop and online, all the time. 30 years of this.
        Andy

    • Andy Gutterman December 10, 2014, 11:49 pm

      Rick,

      Yes, I was. As you know I correspond with a lot of folks at Amazon, from the top down, and because of that and other groups I belong to I’m made painfully aware sometimes of what Amazon is doing.

      Like it or not they represent the future, and if American commerce wants to keep operating they have to pay attention to Amazon, or fail.

      Amazon is a huge disruptive force in this country.

      The Supreme Court just said its OK for workers to not get paid while they wait up to a half hour to gain entrance into their warehouses because of security. That saves Amazon a bundle.

      The world is changing.

      Andy

  • Redwilldanaher December 10, 2014, 3:04 am

    You will love this one Rick:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-09/chart-day-what-6-years-central-bank-liquidity-injections-look

    &&&&&

    Thanks, RW. Some interesting things linked from elsewhere on the page as well, including this, from a guy who gets it where the question of Inflation v Deflation is concerned: Click here.

    RA

  • moi123 December 9, 2014, 3:01 am

    @mario December 9, 2014 at 1:19 am

    Globalization leveling of wages is a long term event. This could have been delayed for a few more decades if the USA had used intelligent tariffs and other ways to keep out Chinese/Asian/Mexican via NAFTA products. I don’t believe in free trade and am joined by China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan in this. I call them free trade realists. Others call them them mercantilists.

    Reshoring won’t help the average US worker much due to automation / computerization/ robotization of manufacturing since we lost those industries 20-30 years ago. The financialization of the US economy started under Ronald Reagan circa 1982 as we climbed out of the Volcker recession, induced by his high interest rates to cure the Jimmy Carter inflation. That’s when we started hostile corporate takeovers / private equity firms / hollowing out of US industry. The role of The Fed is to juice a severely out of balance economy, a koyaanisqatsi society.

    I see a Blade Runner type future for us with too many redundant males. There are no real jobs for men in Ferguson, Missouri. This town is what our future is. Not necessarily the race riots but the lack of decent paying work for guys with average intelligence. The Luddites were right though it took a long time. They have been right since 1980.

    • mario December 9, 2014, 3:31 am

      All well understood Moi, its an increasingly unreasonable and unfair mess. At least reshoring of manufacturing and rising U.S. exports will create new business and jobs.

      Cheers, Mario

      • moi123 December 9, 2014, 5:16 am

        Mario-

        In his memoir, George W. Bush recalls hosting Chinese president Hu Jintao on his first visit to America in April 2006. Bush told the Chinese leader that the thing that kept him up at night was fear of another terrorist attack on the United States. Bush then asked Hu, “What keeps you up at night?”

        Hu’s response: Creating 25 million new jobs a year for his people was the challenge that kept him up at night.
        http://granholmmulhern.com/a-governors-story/excerpt/#sthash.xTMHsH4a.dpuf.

        Because even though the Chinese are godless heathens (joking) —

        — They know that idle hands are The Devil’s workshop.

      • mario December 10, 2014, 10:07 pm

        The fundamental problem of governance in the United States is that it does not serve “of the people, by the people, for the people” which is what it is supposed to exist to do, the supposedly elected mostly serve themselves, their own separate isolated bubble world in which they live. Self-interest trumps good governance.

        Eisenhower, as JJ noted, used the taxes to make the country a better place, spent the money to do something that stimulated business and support what people needed to do more business, namely, build a highway system. That’s a perfect example of “taxes” , of a govt budget, properly and wisely spent. In today’s China, the same thing is happening on a much larger scale with the building up of new highways and an amazing new high speed rail system. Yet, the problem underneath it all is also happening, the rich corrupt game players are doing their shenanigans as they have done in any country throughout history. And so, its a concern…

        Cheers, Mario

    • John Jay December 9, 2014, 3:56 am

      moi123,

      Exactly!
      Which is a big part of why I look back with fondness on the Eisenhower years.
      When LBJ and Pat McCarran were stopping the Border Patrol from enforcing the Immigration Laws in the early 1950’s, Ike stopped that traffic real fast.

      http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0706/p09s01-coop.html

      Ike got us out of the Korean war, and spent money on the Interstate Highway System which benefitted the entire nation.
      Unlike TARP etc., which only benefitted a few Oligarchs.

      He also sent in the 101st Airborne to back up Court ordered desgregation of public schools in Little Rock.
      He championed the Rule of Law when he was POTUS.

    • mava December 10, 2014, 5:59 pm

      If a person grows up in Ferguson, what prevents him from working on better intelligence for himself and better skills? I believe it doesn’t matter who you are, where you were born, nothing stops you from always recognizing that someone has a higher intelligence than you and working on that intelligently, work on oneself. It’s not like Ferguson is some sort of radiation mutant city, is it?

      All humans are created equal. If you don’t believe in this, then you can never make it, because you cannot believe in yourself. I have seen born rich boys crumble, because they did not accept this equality fact. They are ok as long as they dominate others. But there is always someone faster and smarter. As soon as that figure shows up, they are surprised and no longer can push themselves, because they never believed in equality (talking real equality, equality of talents and will, not a commie equality of outcomes) in the first place. They believed they were special, and now, evidently, they are not. So, understanding that all of us are equal in our capacity to achieve is important and not only for the poor boys.

      As far as automation goes, what do we need so many workers who refuse to provide for others for? Why is a reduction of number of workplaces is bad? Who needs all these stupid people?

      Keep in mind, we have been working against the nature for very long. (I mean against natural selection). We saddle our best just so that the dumbest and the laziest can eke out the painful existence until it’s time for them to go. We castrate the beautiful cats just so that we can have billions of lame mice crawling around.

      Guess what? The nature is back with vengeance. The workforce reduction and required elevation of intelligence will still do the selection that we snubbed our noses upon.

      • mario December 10, 2014, 10:13 pm

        Yes Mava, understanding we are all equal in our capacity to achieve is very important, but you are leaving out the “context” and degree of “opportunity” and “capability” the overlords make available in the environment around you, created by them. It was a rough day when Siddhartha wandered outside the palace gates, eh?

        Another problem, as much as we would like it to be so, all people are not really created equal. Some people are clearly of lesser natural talent, ability, intellect, they are clearly “average”, while another person clearly has a natural whole “package” which makes them naturally more capable. These are the people who must be guarded against to take advantage of those who are less capable and fortunate. That’s what good governance is supposed to do, for the community as a whole, its a simple and wise idea, unfortunately, poorly executed.

        Cheers, Mario

  • Sigmund Fraud December 9, 2014, 12:09 am

    Funny comment about medicaid, Rick, and true. Here’s my preference:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDbylmeOdaY

  • mava December 8, 2014, 11:49 pm

    How long this is going to go on?
    Let’s see. At a required rate of growth of earnings per share, how long can they repurchase before no shares left to purchase?

    Its the same as taking out a loan and paying the principal and interest from that same loan.

  • henry marsh December 8, 2014, 6:12 pm

    Rick,
    Have watched this site for years. Now the DNC, Soros and LGBT teams are starting to post their junk. Improving economy, socialist medicine is good, etc., yeah, right.
    Didnt take long for them to recognize you as an opinion maker. Good luck, my friend.
    Henry

    • Redwilldanaher December 10, 2014, 2:59 am

      So true, the zombies are on the march here at Rick’s lately.

  • Jackson December 8, 2014, 5:18 pm

    [ “Minimum 50% discount to all patients who pay cash!” ]

    This past year I needed surgery that wasn’t covered by my insurance. When I got the bill it showed how much would be billed to insurance (if I had it) and then what I owed. My out of pocket was almost double what the insurer would pay.

    I went to their office and explained how I would write a check in full now if they simply gave me the insurance rate. They gave a SMALL discount, not near what the insurance company would pay. The bill was almost 20% of my annual income. That’s a lot of money for me to cough up. Especially when I have a family.

    So I tend to agree with Andy B’s “medicaid for all.” You see, I’m beginning to have a defeatist attitude about the whole thing and quite frankly getting pissed off. I’m at the verge of welcoming single pay national health care. If you can’t beat them, join them.

    Same thing with my chiropractic care. If I pay cash (the green kind that you fold) it’s $50 per visit. Insurance pays much less. I know because I asked the lady. No discount available.

    If someone would like to explain to me why they do it this way I would love to hear it.

    &&&&&&

    Let me see if I can’t make this clear, since my 25 earlier posts on the subject don’t seem to have gotten the message across. For Gary and all of you closet socialists, let me phrase it as a question: HOW THE BLOODY FRIGGING HELL DO YOU THINK “THE GOVERNMENT” CAN AFFORD TO PROVIDE THINGS FOR US THAT WE CAN NO LONGER AFFORD TO PROVIDE FOR OURSELVES???????
    RA

    • Stephen G December 8, 2014, 9:55 pm

      Jackson – this is just a guess, but it might have something to do with volume discounting. A person with insurance is obviously more likely to attend more chiropractic sessions (as an example) than a person without insurance. The clinic therefore gets more money out of that single patient over the long run and can offer the insurance company a discounted rate per session.

    • Jason S December 8, 2014, 10:35 pm

      Jackson, you should have voted with your feet and taken a medical vacation to another country like Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, India, etc. and had western trained doctors and top-notch equipment do the surgery for a fraction of the cost and then rehabilitated in a private room with better staff for longer.

      • Jackson December 9, 2014, 10:05 am

        Jason, That sounds good in theory but I don’t have the time to travel abroad. I have to report to work. I will answer the other questions tomorrow.

      • Jason S December 9, 2014, 6:37 pm

        God forbid you make any sacrifice. Obamacare is perfect for you. Take a pill, its cheap, fast and requires little to no thought.

    • TMM December 8, 2014, 10:50 pm

      The reason that healthcare providers can’t offer their cash-paying patients the insurance discounted rate is because the health insurer contract usually only pays 40-60% of the posted rate. If everybody pays the insurer-discounted rate, then next year, the health insurer will only pay 40-60% of that reduced rate. And Medicare/Medicaid is the worst of all because their contracts require that they will always pay the lowest rate of any insurer.

      &&&&&&

      That’s not the way a cash market would work, Timmy. “Cash” here implies little or no paperwork. If the insurers fight the doctors on this one, they will lose — even if the doctors have to provide free care for a while just to make their point.
      RA

    • mario December 9, 2014, 1:28 am

      By taxing the rich FAIRLY instead of favoring them and screwing the little guy. Which part of THAT don’t we understand?

      Cheers, Mario

    • mario December 9, 2014, 1:33 am

      Jackson, you’re the victim of organized corruption, plain and simple. As Rick I often suggesting, at some point it may implode the whole damn country, at which point America will have about 30 million rich households with loads of money both on and offshore and everyone else out on the street fending for themselves to survive with govt-police state oversight to keep them inline.

      Cheers, Mario

      • mario December 9, 2014, 1:38 am

        Jackson, why did you pay? Don’t pay, let ’em chase you, what happens? Not much if you don’t need loans which you shouldn’t in the first place…. Why don’t you wrote them a lawyer instead starting very clearly that you are being extorted with this unreasonable bill, that as soon as they offer you a reasonable price you will be glad to pay. Send a copy to your representative and the media, post it online. Have fun with it, that’s today’s world. Tell em you have a pal in shanghai that pays $50 for CT scans at brand new hospitals, that’ll get their attention.

        Cheers, Mario

    • Jackson December 9, 2014, 10:20 am

      HOW THE BLOODY FRIGGING HELL DO YOU THINK “THE GOVERNMENT” CAN AFFORD TO PROVIDE THINGS FOR US THAT WE CAN NO LONGER AFFORD TO PROVIDE FOR OURSELVES?

      Before that question can be answered we first have to identify who it is that holds all the wealth.

      If I’m poor and the government is poor then who is rich? Answer that first.

      &&&&&&

      It is the broad middle class that is being taxed to death. To paraphrase Willie Sutton, that’s where the money is. Meanwhile, the truly rich have always paid more than their fair share. As of 2010, the top 10% of earners accounted for more than 70% of all U.S. income taxes collected.

      Speaking as a self-employed working stiff, my out-of-pocket costs for not-great-family-insurance-with-a-high-deductible, co-pays and prescriptions have been running close to $30k a year. I get to deduct a measly $8k of that via an HSA, but compare that with employee plans that provide the entire benefit tax-free.

      I wish you and all the other bleeding hearts who post here would not keep ignoring facts like the above — ignoring that Obamacare itself is the largest tax increase ever levied on the American middle class. RA

      • Traveler December 9, 2014, 8:45 pm

        so you want the rich to subsidize the rest of us?

        okay, you’re on, let’s do some back of the envelope calculations, shall we? Per Forbes, the total net worth of the richest 400 Americans was $2.29 trillion. Suppose you imposed a mandatory 10% tax on that, not that that’s realistic, this is just a back of the envelope exercise. You’d get $229 billion out of that. At best, that is pissing in the wind against $17.5 trillion of known government debt and at least $100 trillion of unfunded mandates. Then what will you do next year when the rich decide they won’t sit still for another round of haircuts? This ought to tell you that we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.

        Denninger has often said the reason health care is so expensive is due to the degree to which the major players (insurance companies, hospitals, medical device makers, pharmaceuticals, etc.) have lobbied Congress to write huge exceptions for them that relieve them of the obligation to follow the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and myriad other anti-price fixing and pro-competition laws. If we were to wipe all of these laws from the books from the books, the impact might be enough to rescue the federal government balance sheets.

    • Andy B December 10, 2014, 4:34 am

      Good point Rick. But we waste 30% plus of the medical costs we spend as a nation.

      http://kaiserhealthnews.org/morning-breakout/iom-report/

      —which goes to the bloated book-keeping requirements needed, for instance to bill 14 different insurance companies from patients with 45 different plans out of one doctor’s office; or is wasted on the propped up drug costs (subsidies and rackets protected by Congress); or is lost to Medicare and Medicaid fruad.

      Your point may be that we are insolvent as a nation. Point taken. And I agree that we should not hit the middle class with the Obama care subsidies, both through taxes, and through “forced participation” with the corrupt health insurance industry. And I agree that paying doctors a reasonable fee directly is a good idea.

      But we are the only civilized country in the world where you can go bankrupt for medical issues. Maybe “health care for all” would be cheaper, and humane? And an economic boon.

      https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/report/2014/09/24/96903/the-middle-class-squeeze/

  • Andy B December 8, 2014, 11:13 am

    Medicaid for all Rick? I’ll take it.

    Beats hell out of sending the money into another fresh war. Or subsidizing millionaire farmers, or propping up automakers. And although you “capitalists” don’t like socialized medicine, the American public would take it hands-down. And let the ones who can afford to “not like it,” well, let them pay out of pocket for what they want.

    Here we are in 2007 with a poll before Obama tainted the “public health care” option with his sell out to the insurance industry cronies.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/01/washington/01cnd-poll.html?_r=0

    Americans want decent insurance that won’t bankrupt them. I agree with you Rick that Obama has failed miserably.

    • Rick Ackerman December 8, 2014, 4:20 pm

      Actually, Medicaid does not beat the hell out of sending money into another fresh war, especially if that war is against an enemy sworn to destroy you. Medicaid doesn’t beat the hell out of anything, really. What Medicaid does is egregiously underpay doctors so that they will no longer want to see you. Or go to medical school in the first place.

      • Aint No December 8, 2014, 10:24 pm

        —But of course if everybody but the very, very rich was on Medicaid, then the doctors would have to see you wouldn’t they? The outrageous cost of Medical School, not to mention college in general is a related issue and needs to be addressed, but doesn’t vitiate the case for single payer, or for that matter, a public option. Lived in the UK many years ago with their NHS and also in Israel with their Kupat Holim.

        Both work, or least worked, much better than what we have here, which was a border line disaster before Obamacare and remains one.

        &&&&&&&&

        British health care only works, sort of, because it has lived off the capital of what was the finest health care system in the world 70 years ago. It isn’t any longer, though — is in a steep state of decline that reflects underinvestment and the ravages of statist free-lunch schemes. You might say that Europe, too, “works” — but this only seems so in the kind of static analysis that liberal think-tanks love to perform. Look at, say, France, in that way and you could almost believe the country is prosperous rather than bankrupt. RA

    • mava December 8, 2014, 10:37 pm

      There is no reason to welcome the socialized medicine.
      “Socialized” means other people are forced to pay for you.
      “Forced” means they would not want to otherwise.
      So, it’s an armed robbery, plain and simple.

      (if people paid voluntarily, there would be no reason to violently force them to)

      How is armed robbery of your own neighbors better than making war on distant people? Not that making wars is any good, of course, but your order of preference is striking to me.

      Do you prefer the same with the positive actions? I mean would you first send a dollar to a “hungry child” in a foreign country rather than help your own sister?

      • mario December 9, 2014, 1:25 am

        Disagree, socialized healthcare is a great idea, health is fundamental, good should have their shit together to run such programs for the citizens of their country in a fair and reasonable way. They don’t, that’s the problem. There’s nothing wrong with rich people paying more taxes to support such programs rather than a system which supports them to get richer and screw the little guy all along the way while socking millions away like economic bloodsuckers. Inept, corrupt govt is the problem, no the idea of “social” programs which make the broader society of a country a more stable and fair place to live, which America had turned away from and is beyond repair.

        Cheers, Mario

      • mava December 9, 2014, 4:51 am

        You say, Mario:
        “There’s nothing wrong with rich people paying more taxes to support such [socialist] programs…”

        Alright. So, I am rich. Please, tell me, how am I guilty of something, so that I supposed to pay more than the other guy. What did I steal, who did I exploit?

        I am paying for my own healthcare. Nobody is paying for mine. Yet, you say, I supposed to pay for others.

        If I am rich, then I guess, for you, it is only fair to reach into my pocket, take my things, take my money, because somehow, the life treated you unfairly?

        Further, distilled down to basics, you advocate violence on basis of material inequality. If I have a dollar and you have 50 cents, then it is ok for you to violently take some money from me. Is this not what you saying?

        I am reading this from your statement, because you:
        -not ok with allowing the rich to voluntarily decide if they should disburse to the masses what they worked for.
        -your qualifier for “pay more” is that I have more.

        The only difference between you and and an armed robber is that:
        -there are many robbers like you, and you have organized yourself.
        -you made your routine into a law, and therefore you no longer need to wave a gun in my face.

        I find this disgusting.

      • Jason S December 9, 2014, 6:33 pm

        Bravo, Mava! Yes, the rich should pay more to subsidize the less fortunate since it is in their long-term best interest to keep the system going rather than let entropy occur. But that is what charity is for and all about. We should foster and cheerlead that rather than Big Brother. If society only works at the end of the stick rather than the carrot then I vote for natural selection to do its thing and hit the “intelligent life” reset button (at least for those that are agnostic or atheists, religious folks have their own endgame).

      • Redwilldanaher December 10, 2014, 2:54 am

        As always, well done Mava. Mario, at times, just can’t override the reflex.

      • mario December 10, 2014, 9:59 pm

        Though I love the philosophy and ideals in much of your writing, this is a BS argument Mava and I’ll tell you why. First of all your argument is not realistic, its theoretical and idealist, it doesn’t apply in the real world and therefore is not useful, practical, helpful. Secondly, reality is that RICH PEOPLE IN CHARGE MOSTLY CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR THE SOCIETY IN WHICH THEY GET RICH.

        Now, we can start by asking, is that true statement? We only need look to thousands of years of history to say yes.

        The pure, perfect, capitalist society where everyone is treated exactly equally is a theoretical, its impossible. Human nature, greed, self-interest, gets in the way. Secondly, people in a group need rules and laws to abide by. That’s why people gather up and form organizations including governments, ideally, to “govern” ! Then they screw that up! Why, again, greed and self-interest. They favor themselves, the rich, they can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Governance NEEDS to come along and make a set of rules that are fair to the community, not just the individual. In their attempts to do that, most governms themselves then also run amok. THAT’S the problem.

        Let’s take a very small “country”.

        Its 200 American style condominiums. And everyone wants their lovely little community to look nice. So everyone agrees to chip in $100/month to keep the place looking nice and follow some reasonable guidelines. The money is used to keep the grass and flowers pretty, to have a guard at the gate to keep everyone safe, to create some laws for the community by the 3 person board that was picked to be the overseers. That $100 is the “tax” for that little society, right? Then, for another $20/month they add the community doctor, there’s your socialized medicine for the neighborhood, right? Get the idea? EVERYONE is better off, the COMMUNITY is fundamentally well taken care of and stable. Those core needs are important. Along comes the 5-6 rich people in the community who start getting richer at everyone else’s expense. They take advantage of their power, the power of their money and their greed and they start playing games. They start creating all kinds of shenanigans that hurt the rest of the community. In fact, they even cause the lesser folks in their little country to not be able to earn a decent living. They cause the expenses of the everyone in the community to go UP with no added benefit.

        WHO brings these a-holes under control? The governance of that community. And you say they shouldn’t have to pay “more” as “percentage” of their riches?

        That’s what I find disgusting.

        Cheers, Mario

        &&&&&

        I’m totally with Mava on this one — for more reasons than I have time to elucidate. I disagree with every point you’ve made here. As always, whatever big problems we have as a society, they are all attributable in significant part or entirely to Big Government. RA

      • mario December 11, 2014, 7:13 am

        BAD government Rick, big or small, we agree. Good governance by good, worthy, respectable leaders in charge doesn’t ruin countries, societies and swaths of their population. And it is possible, but they are the exception. The problem isn’t “government”, its the rich hoarding what they have, who then get in cahoots with government or are the government, along with their military, ignoring the travails of common man along the way. I will not let anyone slide on this, it is irrefutably correct.

        Cheers, Mario

      • Rick Ackerman December 11, 2014, 8:28 pm

        I would dispute that the rich are hoarding anything, Mario, even if their defining characteristic is that they have more money than they can spend. By and large, they put their savings where the Guvmint cannot easily confiscate it. Yes, the rich are in cahoots with Guvmint. But it’s up to “good” government to incentivize investments that create jobs rather than asset inflation. The best way to do this would be for the Guvmint to get the hell out of the way. Meanwhile, there is the question Mava has repeatedly posed: What claim does the Guvmint or anyone else have to money earned by “the rich”? At best, in the evil hands of Guvmint, the money will only be criminally wasted anyway.

        I challenge you to come up with a single big problem faced by America that cannot be directly attributed to the depradations, greed and stupidity of Big Government. Even the fatal indebtedness of American households can be traced to the free-lunch temptations and instrumentalities of fractional reserve banking. High medical costs? They are driven by healthcare that is a tax-free benefit to employees. “Racism”? A delusion made more powerful and destructive by the affirmative-action industry. Bad schools? No explanation is even needed. Etcetera, etcetera.

      • John Jay December 12, 2014, 6:07 am

        Rick,

        Since the LBJ administration, Federal Government programs have grown exponentially, and the looting of those programs has grown exponentially as well.

        My favorite example is the following:
        On some website I once read a short parable of how the Military Industrial Complex works to keep the threat level perpetually at Condition Red.
        The writer claimed to be some manner of Threat Analyst in the Pentagon.
        He said the secret Policy between the US and the Soviet Union/Russian defense establishments was to keep each other advised of any weapons systems breakthroughs.
        That way, all they had to do was run to Congress/Duma and say breathlessly, “Oh my God, look what the Americans/Russians have just come up with! We have to counter it or perish!”
        Guaranteed to keep the monies flowing to the MIC!
        Nice little scheme, isn’t it?

        I saw on PBS the same scam being run on a more primitive level by two opposing tribes deep in the Amazon forest.
        The warriors got together and planned occasional raids/skirmishes with the other tribe.
        Sometimes guys got wounded or killed, but nothing too terrible happened.
        Their joint motive?
        To keep the females doing as much of the work as possible while the males had to “Protect” them from that other blood thirsty tribe!
        Nothing new under the sun!

      • Chuck December 12, 2014, 5:11 pm

        Hmm…maybe we are doing the same thing here in the USA. Women are getting all the good service jobs anyway – might as well let them work AND raise the kids.

        I also think that big oil is setting us up for another huge spike. This way the car manufacturers (whom they collude with can sell all of the SUVs they have while gas is so ‘low’.

      • John Jay December 12, 2014, 5:49 pm

        Chuck,

        Giant pickup trucks and SUVs have sure made a comeback here in Southern California.
        I have even seen a few enormous Hummer vehicles on the road.
        Those things have so much horsepower I feel like I am driving a Model T Ford in my 1986 300ZX with it’s 156 horsepower engine!

        Oh well, Boeing is shutting down their C-17 factory in Long Beach, and the Panama Canal improvement is almost complete, which should slow down things at the harbor here.
        Anything to cut down on the traffic suits me.

      • Jason S December 12, 2014, 8:31 pm

        JJ, the traffic issue being lessened would be good. Driving on the 710 or 110 has become impossible with all the truck traffic.

      • Jason S December 12, 2014, 8:34 pm

        I agree, Rick. Big government is the beast, and it must be fed. Even the wealthy hoarding money is due to big government’s overreach and insatiable hunger.

        My stipulation that the wealthy are hoarding comes from the fact that they control far more wealth than they could spend in thousands of lifetimes so the velocity of those dollars is zero, probably for generations.

      • Chris B. December 13, 2014, 7:46 pm

        Okay, so big .gov is the root of the problem?

        Who owns/controls .gov if not the rich?

      • Squire Danaher December 12, 2014, 3:54 am

        Let’s extend your scenario Mario. You’re centralization of power makes control of the masses turnkey for elites/sociopaths. Ultimately your scenario leads to what we have now. Are you really arguing for more of this?????

        Governments are the enemy of the people because people are enemies of the people. All government serves to do is decriminalize/legitimize the crimes by the corrupt that control the government.

        What’s the difference between the mafia and coercive governments?

      • mario December 12, 2014, 5:06 pm

        Guys, I’m saying “good government”….its not my fault a particular country or state or province or city may not have one. You cannot rationally generalize by saying things such as “all govt is the enemy” , “we don’t need govt” , etc. It is totally unrealistic to suggest societies don’t need govt, they ALL have one and always have for centuries. If your govt , meaning the govt leaders of that govt were doing a very fine, responsible job doing their job of governing, you would not be complaining, you would be glad. Govts do many very good and important things for societies, unfortunately it seems many are prone to also doing many things not so good and even terrible.

        Cheers, Mario

      • Stephen G December 12, 2014, 8:25 pm

        Mava – how absolutist is your Dickensian view of the world? Would you be in favour of abolishing Medicare and Medicaid as well?

      • mava December 12, 2014, 11:10 pm

        Stephen G,

        Absolutely. But not by a decree. I am for allowing every individual to decide on his property without exception. This would allow the poor to have the Medicare that is funded by those who wants to fund it. At the same time, anyone who doesn’t want it, won’t have to pay.

        Mario,

        While you think that your argument is irrefutable, it is full of holes. This should make you re examine it, not for the sake of the argument here, but for your own sanity with yourself. I know I would.

        We should not make this a long discussion on fundamental issues, like RA says, there is no time to elucidate on. But here are few things from your assumptions:

        -“everyone wants their lovely little community to look nice” Never everyone. In your example, the violent voting system is used. Let anyone optout from the system and you will see that as soon as the system gets screwed, people will de-fund it.

        -“the 3 person board that was picked to be the overseers”. Here you delegate your own property decision making rights to the government. You are creating a reason for this government to start offering these rights for sale. Poor ain’t gonna buy them.

        -“for another $20/month they add the community doctor, there’s your socialized medicine for the neighborhood”. Don’t lie. Obamacare makes me pay more than others, your example uses same 20 bucks.

        -“the COMMUNITY is fundamentally well taken care of and stable”. This is Nazism, Mario. I don’t care for your community. I will move to a better community anytime. Caring for community is no smarter than caring for a drunk idiot on drugs who happen to pass out in your vicinity.

        -“Those core needs are important” No. Those needs are only core and important to you, in your subjective estimation. This may or may not hold true for others.

        -“start getting richer at everyone else’s expense” Not possible. Are you talking about your own corrupted government selling the powers you have delegated to them? Are you talking about criminals? If not, then you think that people necessarily get rich at someone else expense. This is not how economy works. In absence of violence (government), people get rich by adding value, producing, serving, creating, minimizing costs.

        -“In fact, they even cause the lesser folks in their little country to not be able to earn a decent living.” In fact? They? This is no different than calling all black people criminals.

        In conclusion, Mario, you want to create the seeds that will destroy your own community. You think, that taxing the rich will solve something. But you only create more stimulae and opportunities for them, and you propagate the violence. You conflate the principles on which a society can thrive into a mess, that will invariably lower the efficiency and eventually arrest your community altogether.

        Secondly, any system as you just described, cannot regulate itself, because it does not have a working feedback loop. It will self-destruct even for this only reason. Again, this is because you do not allow opt-outs. It’s always “everyone” with you. You can’t really afford any other approach, of course, because with your confused understanding of economy, your view is that of “rich are exploiting others”. Therefore you must right the playing field, which necessitates institutionalized robbery, which in turn precludes any form of opt-outs. Thus, no feedback loop in your system, no self regulation.

        You know why bad businesses go bankrupt (in absence of government)? Because people can and do opt-out. Well, your society is built from the start to become another USPS or Government Motors or AIG. Taxing the rich will not help you. No amount of money in the world could. The more you throw, the more it will gobble.

      • Stephen G December 13, 2014, 1:55 am

        mava – and I guess if nobody in the 1% is kind enough to help fund this revised version of Medicare, I guess the old and the poor will be left to cough up blood in the streets just like in the good old days?

  • moi123 December 8, 2014, 10:09 am

    I see only one healthy new development in the US economy since the crash and the deflation we slowly began climbing out of in March 2009. And that is fracking. This means American jobs, American production, less buying-importing of foreign oil and gas. In Florida I see more economic happiness due to the flood of Federal Reserve created money. I spoke with a guy who owns a huge house with a yard full of fruit trees and is an economic success. I asked him what he thought of the new bubble. I gave him my opinion that it was Federal Reserve created. His answer was that he could care less why the economy had picked up. He only cared about seeing himself doing better than a few years ago. Forget average Americans, I am sure 99% of wealthy Americans (who you would think are more intelligent) could care less where this new found “prosperity” comes from.
    He works for one of the largest wholesale fruit tree nurseries here that actually grafts and nurses along (to sellable size) young fruit trees for a homeowner to plant in his backyard. One of his job perks is they allow him to buy these trees at a favorable price and sell them out of his residential property which is legal and registered as a home nursery. Unlike former years, this year he has large orders set aside for guys who recently bought houses with large yards where you can plant 10-20-30 fruit trees such as mango, avocado, sapodilla and other tropical fruit trees. I would be looking around for something to buy and so much of his stock was reserved for these large orders.
    Another sign of a better economy is strip mall spaces being filed up that had been vacant. Also more housing being built. Matter of fact around the corner from me a condominium complex on land that has been empty for years. Land that should have been sold during the last bubble that started deflating in 2007.
    Maybe Rick could answer— My point being that we can discuss here what makes the economy tick but we are the distinct minority. That just about all Americans care only if their income is going up or down. The never want to know about the Federal Reserve and Wall Street manipulations of the stock markets. Plus they don’t want to know how the Federal Gov’t is grabbing more and more of the nations wealth. Example– They are hiring 1000 people to process the applicants for the Obama illegal alien Amnesty. They will work in a building in Crystal City Virginia that is reserved for them. So this brings more of that fake prosperity to the DC region which has most of Americas wealthiest zip codes
    OT– Geography as an influence.. I am reading. Despite the title it has material on why nations rise and decline. >>>
    “The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate” – September 10, 2013—Robert Kaplan

    • mario December 9, 2014, 1:19 am

      Moi….also reshoring of manufacturing. American landscape is being reshaped, the old America is gone. The new America includes a sector of lower income family households, about 40% of households who will survive on those wages plus Ocare. They will learn, fortunately to forego car payments.

      Part of the new societal dynamics are US manufacturing & exports on the rise into new, lower wage manufacturing related jobs….

      Cheers, Mario

    • Steevo December 11, 2014, 3:28 am

      No Lie. I see more and more NJ, NY, PA, and VA plates trolling South down the NJ Turnpike and I95 to DC on Sundays or on Monday morning at Dark Thirty. The Same trek is replayed in a Northerly direction on Friday Nights. Folks in my neighborhood [on the NJ Shore] and other Sandy affected locations in NJ were granted $10,000.00 if they agreed not to leave their county of residence for 3 years. As tragic as it is, the last thing that is anchoring anyone to NJ, lower NY, and PA is their homes. Sandy made that decision of shortening the weekly commute that much easier for many… Sorry for deviating off topic but it is illustrative of the displaced middle class. Any recovery in housing will further hasten the economic flight to the last vestige of profligate spending.

      &&&&&&

      Not sure if I follow, Steve. I grew up on the Jersey Shore but would not move back because of ridiculously high property taxes — that, and Christie’s jihad to destroy the beaches with sand berms. Margate is resisting this and has a good chance of prevailing in court.
      RA

  • Rick Ackerman December 8, 2014, 7:29 am

    You might want to re-read my commentary, Jackson, since you seem to have missed the entire point of it. I wasn’t attempting to entertain, but to stoke outrage at the largest tax increase in U.S. history — i.e., Obamacare. Concerning “brilliant ideas,” I know you were just being flippant, but there is only one solution (which, by the way, I’ve written about here before): Doctors will have to take back control of health care. How? They can start by hanging out shingles that say “Minimum 50% discount to all patients who pay cash!” That will be the easy part. Much more difficult will be for doctors to get the hospitals at which they have privileges to go along with this, since the hospitals, like healthcare insurers, have been co-opted into Obamacare by Guvmint guarantees of profitability. What is in fact guaranteed is that the healthcare delivery system will start to look increasingly like Medicaid for All if Obamacare is still the law of the land in two years.

    • Steevo December 11, 2014, 3:12 am

      Lets not forget medical malpractice insurance and tort, and what that does to drive prices for delivered services into the stratosphere. Also how the cost for a University Doctorate Degree in the US is outrageous compared to an equivalent degree obtained elsewhere [off shore], on the order of 1/4th to 1/8th the cost of a US education.

      I suspect however that seeing the declining insurance purchases and opt in stats of Gen Y and Millennials, Obacare is an attempt at propping up the last bubble left in the economy. Forcing compulsory participation is the best way to prop up something that should otherwise be subject to the unadulterated laws of supply and demand.

      &&&&&&&

      Prop up the economy?? Let me repeat this yet again: Obamacare is the biggest U.S. tax hike ever enacted.
      RA

  • Jackson December 8, 2014, 6:22 am

    [My own “pleasant surprise” came recently when Humana canceled my family policy and I learned that it would cost me 40% more to duplicate its benefits on an Obamacare exchange.]

    My health care is as high as my rent for a family of four plus one dog. My back hurts, my wrist has a bone spur, and I get up most mornings before the sun rises and come home after dark just to put food on the table.

    Please excuse me for being brash but your article is “captain obvious”. Every American knows health care is expensive.

    Bashing Obama care without giving a better solution is useless to the reader. You are a reporter aren’t you? Then report on something we don’t already know about or give a brilliant idea on how to fix the problem that will spread throughout the minds of Americans. Anything else is for entertainment purposes only.

    Health care costs rose every year under Bush and before AHCA. So I don’t see going back to wasn’t working in the first place to be a solution to the problem, which, to my interpretation is what you are suggesting.

    • John Jay December 8, 2014, 3:05 pm

      Jackson,

      It is way too late for solutions to this country’s problems.
      All that’s left to us are consequences.
      It will only continue to get worse in the future.
      It’s every man for himself now.

      Regardless of my feelings of nostalgia for the Eisenhower Administration, those days are gone forever, that America has dried up and blown away.
      For the average working American who is not feeding at the FSA/GSA trough, his world is a Third World Banana Republic, now and forever.
      I feel bad about that, but, what is, is.

      • Stephen G December 8, 2014, 9:40 pm

        “Regardless of my feelings of nostalgia for the Eisenhower Administration…”

        Probably not a stretch to assume you are a white, heterosexual male.

    • Jason S December 8, 2014, 7:03 pm

      Jackson, here is your solution…dig up your ancestors and any hang them in effigy. If you have any living relatives over 65 do the same to them. It wont make the problem better but at least you can punish those that stuck you in this God awful situation.

      For decades we demanded healthcare that was more expensive than we could afford and foisted the cost on the next generation. All the while living the American dream of couch lounging and a full belly 24/7 which has led to America feeling physically and emotionally crappy all the time.

      There is no solution to this problem other than to deal with the reality of quasi-decent healthcare and sacrificing the 60″ LED TV and new car every three years and working until 70 to pay for it. No other option since we have run out of patsies to stick with the bill. This is math, the old kind, not Common Core.

      &&&&&&

      Spot-on as usual, Jason.
      RA

      • mario December 9, 2014, 1:13 am

        That’s the amazing part of American thinking Jason, the brainwashed idea that owning a new car, with a car payment, not to mention, every 3-4 years, with a car payment, is important! I don’t blame the citizenry, I blame the marketing, banking, govt trifecta who encouraged the stupidest way to live on the planet…on debt.

        Cheers, Mario.

  • John Jay December 8, 2014, 5:13 am

    I agree with Rick, Bob, and Harry, you make valid points for sure.

    I would add that another likely reason for the Fed perpetually ramping the stock market is to keep all the assorted underfunded pension plans from defaulting.
    We have all heard of the State and Municipal pension plans that are in hopeless deficit.
    An inflated stock market allows them to sell off holdings to make monthly retirement checks clear.
    Without that Fed intervention, you would probably see the steady sell orders from pension plans dragging the stock market relentlessly down.

    There is a method to their madness.
    Because the flood of government workers retiring at all levels has only just begun.
    Think “Financial Whack a Mole.”
    Because that is the game the Fed has been playing since Easy Al took over from Tall Paul.

  • Harry December 8, 2014, 4:37 am

    The corporates who rule America through their lobbyists are not the slightest bit interested in maintaining the profligate American middle class. On the contrary, corporations are delighted to be able to offshore their work to harder-working, lower-cost, better-educated professionals overseas.

    But in order to prevent a riot they need to let the victims down gently, by the time-honored method of maintaining nominal salaries while debauching the currency.

    That’s the real reason for QE1, 2, 3, 4 etc, to inflate the currency and quietly deflate middle class salaries. With the happy bi-product of enriching their cronies in Wall St.

    But something went wrong. Instead of causing noxious inflation neatly hidden by innocent-looking official statistics, there’s genuine deflation so obvious it cannot be concealed even from ignorant middle-America.

    • Stephen G December 8, 2014, 9:19 pm

      Deflation yes, but not where it might help: FOOD.

      Food prices continue to rise. So while housing, cars, and other big ticket items may decline in price, household staples will rise.

      As I believe Rick mentioned in a previous article, this fact distinguishes the current malaise from the 1930s. During the Great Depression, as terrible as it was, at the very least the price of virtually everything declined precipitously. Not so now.

      The sinking price of oil and non-proportional decline in price at the pump is worth noting. Oil has collapsed 40% since the summer yet the decline in gasoline price per litre has been infuriatingly slow and makes me cheer on Elon Musk even more. If we had seen a 40% INCREASE in oil, anyone care to wager how quickly gasoline prices would shoot up?

      &&&&&&&

      Indeed. The price of gasoline, more than just about everything else consumers buy, is very stubbornly inflexible downward. Enjoy $2.70 regular while it lasts, because we all know that any news that causes even a slight uptick in commodity crude will push the pump price 0.60-0.70 higher in mere days, on its way to new highs above $4.00 per gallon.
      RA

      • Chuck December 8, 2014, 11:13 pm

        and the first thing the ‘experts’ will tell you is that it is the cost of refining and other logistics issues. when I had an oil heated home I could never figure this out. heating oil is NOT very refined and costs a lot MORE. same with diesel fuel….rip off oil industry.

      • mario December 9, 2014, 1:09 am

        Stephen, not so fast my friend, food in the US is relatively speaking, dirt cheap in America along with households staples and electronics. Portions at restaurants are huge in terms of price/value. Beef and salmon dirt cheap in the grocery stores, it’s amazing. You can buy nice kids clothes in America made in China as cheap s we can buy it here in China. Honest.

        Cheers, Mario

  • VegasBob December 8, 2014, 2:47 am

    I visited my old home town of Las Vegas the week before Thanksgiving. The tourist areas looked pretty normal – there were the usual armies of drunks wandering about on Saturday night on both the Strip and Fremont Street downtown.

    However, going north on the Strip past Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, there were some large abandoned construction projects. The old Sahara hotel casino which closed a couple of years ago had been reopened as something called SLS. It looked dead.

    Off the Strip, Las Vegas is still an unmitigated disaster. The old Las Vegas Hilton, which was renamed LVH, has been renamed Westgate. It looked dead. There are literally hundreds of shuttered retail locations, abandoned construction projects and empty strip malls.

    If there is any economic recovery anywhere in the country, it is limited to the Federal Government and its neocon war machine, the Wall Street fraud machine, and Silicon Valley’s technological la-la-land. Most of the rest of the country is still mired in some kind of an economic Bizarro world.

    I suspect that future historians will scratch their heads, wondering what kind of stupidity could lead a country to believe that it could create wealth through the fraud of money printing and prosperity through the fraud of financial engineering.


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