Thursday, February 28, 2013

THE STORMS OF LIFE.......FACING FEAR

Everyone experiences fear in their life. There are big fears we are very aware of and little ones we may not even realize we have.



It's very important to understand what fear is and how it works against us because if we don't, it can keep us from becoming what God created us to be, which means we won't fulfill our purpose in life.

Fear's Evil Scheme

God wants us to walk by faith, and Satan wants us to walk by fear.

Fear is a tool the devil uses against us to make us miserable and destroy our lives. 

It begins as a thought and then creates emotions that can rule us. It often becomes a strong, intense feeling that tries to move us to make a foolish action or tries to prevent us from doing something that would be good for us. Because it's such a common way that Satan attacks people's lives, I think of it as the master spirit he uses to manipulate people and keep them out of God's will.



Simply put, fear is the opposite of faith. 

God wants us to walk by faith, and Satan wants us to walk by fear. When we learn to live by faith and not let fear rule our life, we can live a fulfilling, satisfying, peaceful and joyful life in Christ.

Like I said before, fear begins with a thought. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he".  I like to say it like this: Where the mind goes, the man follows.

Finding Freedom

This is why the Bible talks about meditating on the Word of God and having our minds renewed (see Romans 12:2) so we can know what God's will is. Meditating means you roll the Scripture over and over in your mind until it becomes part of you. Meditating on the word of GOD, takes information and turns it into revelation.

When you get revelation about something, then you know that you know that you know it, and the truth of it sets you free from the lie that was holding you back from something God had for you.

Is Fear Holding You Back?

I wonder how many people actually have gifts and talents from God but they aren't using them because they tried and failed?

So many people are frustrated because they know they're not doing what they are meant to do and are letting fear rule them.

I want you to get a revelation about this because you're not going to ever be really happy if you don't fulfill your potential and be who God created you to be. 

The key is to learn who you are in Christ and see yourself in Him.

When we become born again through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we actually become "recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew that we may do good works which God predestined…for us…living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live" (Ephesians 2:10 AMP).

So whatever Jesus is, we are too. 

He is strong, and in Him, we are strong. 

He is courageous; in Him, we are courageous. 

He is a conqueror, so we can be too. 

He has peace and joy, so we have peace and joy. 

He's capable and bold. 

In Christ, we can do whatever we need to do with His boldness.

As you read the Bible and meditate on what God says about you, you will be able to recognize the fears in your life that are holding you back and overcome them by seeing yourself in Christ. Then you will find you have whatever you need to do what you are created to do.

Let us not fear the storms of life. They are not harbingers of death, but calls from God telling us that our time on this planet is short and should be used wisely.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, …
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

HERE ARE JESUS' QUESTIONS TO TWELVE MEN IN A BOAT 2000 YEARS AGO, NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED.  

Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?
 



Next Stop, Greece.........AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ!

A Recent Barron's Cover Article
 
Next Stop, Greece


By GENE EPSTEIN

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama concluded that "the State of our Union is stronger." The big question is: stronger than what?

Federal debt is a record $12.2 trillion, or 76% of the nation's annual output of goods and services. While that's still well below Greece's 153%, we're headed steadily in the wrong direction.

According to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, adjusted by Barron's to account for recent tax increases and other factors, if the U.S. doesn't raise taxes further and cut spending dramatically, the national debt could easily reach 153% of economic output by 2035.

These are not just numbers. If the U.S. national debt continues ballooning, we can be sure of a deep, long-lasting recession -- very likely a depression. The unemployment rate could easily surge to 20%.

The CBO has been issuing warnings about the looming risk of a debt crisis for nearly three years. So far, those warnings have gone unheeded, probably because the crisis seems so far away. But as the CBO keeps pointing out, the longer this particular can gets kicked down the road, the greater the risk that entitlements promised to tens of millions of the old and poor won't be delivered. It could also lead to a fiscal crisis on an unprecedented scale.

This problem can't be solved by asking the rich to pay a little more, despite what the president says. In fact, Barron's calculates that immediately increasing the marginal tax rate to 50% on the top 1% of the country's earners would bring in $500 billion over the next 10 years. This would barely dent the country's debt load, which would then be $20 trillion, and do little to forestall a financial crisis.

Getting the national debt under control will require tax increases for everyone, as well as budget cuts, particularly in entitlement spending, which is beginning to run out of control as the baby boomers hit retirement age. Fixing that now is not an easy task, given that Congress can't even reach a compromise on the current budget deficit.

The warnings are growing louder. In a July 2010 "Issue Brief" with the ominous title, "Federal Debt and the Risk of a Fiscal Crisis," the CBO cited similar crises in Argentina, Ireland, and Greece as useful comparisons with the one that could hit the U.S. And as recently as last June, the CBO referred to a fiscal crisis in its "Long-Term Budget Outlook," which projected future budgets over decades.

According to the first Brief, a "review of fiscal crises in Argentina, Ireland, and Greece in the past decade reveals instructive common features and differences."

One difference, of course, is that these economies are much smaller and weaker than the powerhouse U.S.'s. So America would presumably cope better with the shock. But one advantage of being small is that it makes you a candidate for bailouts from larger economies. In contrast, the U.S. will be both too big to fail and too big to bail, a potentially toxic combination that could infect all the world's economies.

A key similarity: Argentina, Ireland, and Greece have all been plagued by soaring debt. The U.S. is not there yet. But the CBO warned of the danger that "the surge in debt relative to the country's output would pose a clear threat of a fiscal crisis during the next two decades."

SKEPTICS MIGHT WONDER just how it is possible to make a valid prediction over more than a quarter-century, when it's hard enough to forecast what will happen next year.

Answer: The CBO projections in this chart below are not predictions, but scenarios plausible enough to be taken seriously. They show that if certain trends are allowed to continue, the U.S. economy would be under siege.

One key driver of this crisis scenario is inevitable: the aging of the baby boomers. As the chart shows, the rise in the share of the population 65 and over -- the age of eligibility for Medicare -- has just begun. Born from 1946 through 1964, the boomers will range in age from 49 to 67 this year. As they continue to age, the over-65 portion of the population, now 14.1%, will gradually climb, exceeding 20% for the first time in 2029, when the youngest boomers, born in 1964, will be turning 65.

Not coincidentally, around 2029 the ratio of U.S. government debt to annual economic output, or gross domestic product, will begin to exceed its peak of 112.7%, set in 1945, the final year of World War II. The difference, however, is that, with a major war concluded, the expectation then was that U.S. indebtedness would decline. Indeed, by 1955, the ratio had plummeted to 55.5%. In 2029, in contrast, the expectation will be for indebtedness to continue to explode.

image

The connection between the baby-boomer time bomb and the rising debt-to-GDP ratio reveals that the next 10 years, for all their potential difficulty, are actually the relative calm before the coming storm. And yet the 10-year outlook has framed the current discussion of the debt in Washington. Clearly mindful of this, the CBO's report on the 10-year outlook, released early this month, cautioned that "projections for the period covered in this report do not fully reflect long-term budget pressures," which include "the aging of the population, the rising health-care costs, and…Social Security…."

The CBO added that, "Unless the laws governing those programs are changed -- or the increased spending is accompanied by corresponding reductions in other spending, sufficiently higher tax revenues, or a combination of the two -- debt will rise sharply, relative to GDP, after 2023."

JUST HOW SHARPLY is what the three lines in the chart on this page are meant to approximate. They are based on the Congressional Budget Office's fairly optimistic projections for long-term economic growth, as well as the assumption that "other spending," aside from entitlements, will continue rising at its long-term pace. The CBO's 10-year projection assumes that GDP growth will hit 3.4% by 2014, and accelerate to an annual average of 3.6% from 2015 to 2018.  GETTING OUR GDP OVER 3% IS ABSOLUTE DELUSION.

What about Barron's other assumptions? In his State of the Union address, the president claimed that efforts to tame debt and deficits had already progressed "more than halfway." In his view, then, all that remains to be done is to duplicate what has been done so far. PROVING MORE ABOUT OBAMA'S INTELLIGENCE, OR LACK OF IT AND HIS ABILITY TO LIE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC. 

Our assumptions easily accommodate that; in fact, the second and third scenarios, which factor in tax increases, exceed what has been done so far by a wide margin. Yet in all three cases, the long-term trajectory is still daunting.

Barron's calculated these projections by imposing substantial downward revisions on the long-term projections that the CBO published last June. For example, the agency estimated debt-to-GDP at 250% by 2043 in its June 2012 projections. The three new projections Barron's made reduce that ratio to 211%, 203%, and 193%. 

THE ASSUMPTIONS UNDERLYING each projection build on the one before. The top line (blue) incorporates factors that have already reduced the debt, and which fit under the heading of progress already made. They include the end of the payroll-tax holiday early this year; the rise in the marginal rate to 39.6% from 35% on incomes for joint-earners of $450,000 annually and for single-filers of $400,000, and the recent slowdown in the growth of health-care spending, which some regard as temporary, but that the CBO assumes will persist.

The top line also includes the benefit of another factor that the president now opposes: the planned imposition on March 1 of automatic cuts specified in the Budget Control Act of 2011, otherwise known as sequestration. These reductions have been scored by the CBO as worth nearly $1.8 trillion in savings over the next 10 years, a figure that includes a reduction in the cost of debt-servicing. The president wants them replaced by other cuts that he believes would work better. LIKE ANYTHING HE HAS PROPOSED HAS WORKED AT ALL. BUT WE CAN'T BLAME OBAMA ALL HE DOES IS READ THE TELEPROMPTER.

The second line (green) adds another assumption. It would immediately raise the marginal rate on the top earners to 50% from 39.6%. Obama hasn't proposed such a drastic hike, but our calculations should more than satisfy any lingering view that "millionaires and billionaires" alone could solve the entire problem by paying their "fair share." Remember that most of these rich folks also pay income taxes in their home states.

Assuming that this hike wouldn't alter behavior in such a way as to reduce the tax take -- and ignoring the fact that revenue from the alternative minimum tax would fall as a result -- the additional revenue over 10 years would be a little more than $500 billion. Even throwing in assumed additional savings in debt-servicing costs, the debt reduction wouldn't be huge in proportionate terms. To appreciate the magnitudes involved, the national debt by 2023 would be in the range of $20 trillion, give or take. It shouldn't be surprising that even aggressive tax hikes on the top 1% won't save the day. While the rich do earn a lot, they aren't that numerous. THE NUMBER IS GETTING SMALLER WITH EACH ELECTION CYCLE! 

To raise even more revenue, try rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the other 99%. That would have a 10-year value of three-quarters of a trillion, and even more once we assume reduced debt-servicing costs. That's a big number on its own, but not in relation to our soaring debt. As the third (red) line in the chart shows, the upward trajectory of debt-to-GDP wouldn't be materially altered by such a rollback.

One lesson in this exercise: Unless President Obama proposes drastic spending cuts, his vision for America requires imposing crippling taxes on the very people whose continued prosperity he so strongly champions -- the lower 99%. Even a 25% tax hike on this broad group wouldn't be enough to solve the budget problem unless it was combined with sharp cuts in spending.  BIG SPENDING CUTS ARE COMING LIKE IT OR NOT!

Once this becomes clear, things could get ugly. 

"If the United States encountered a fiscal crisis," observed the CBO in its July 2010 Issue Brief, "the abrupt rise in interest rates would reflect investors' fears that the government would renege on the terms of its existing debt or that it would increase the supply of money to finance its activities or pay creditors and thereby boost inflation."

Add to that nightmare scenario the risk that Uncle Sam would have to renege on promises made to people over 65.

To avoid such scenarios, we need to start right now -- a plea the Congressional Budget Office has been repeating over the years. PROVING THAT POLITICIANS FROM BOTH SIDES ARE TONE DEAF WITH REGARD TO ANYTHING THAT MAKES SENSE.

In its recent report on the 10-year outlook, the agency observed: "Deciding now what policy changes to make to resolve that long-term imbalance would allow for gradual implementation, which would give households, businesses, and state and local governments time to plan and adjust their behavior."

And not making a decision won't make those storm clouds go away.

Downwardly Revising CBO Projections for Debt as a Share of Nominal Gross Domestic Product
The two main sources for the projections generated by Barron's: the June 2012 Congressional Budget Office report, "The 2012 Long-Term Budget Outlook," which runs numbers going out several decades; and the February 2013 CBO report, "The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013-2023."

In all cases, since all figures are essentially back-of-the-envelope approximations, the method followed was to generate estimates that erred on the side of minimizing future estimates of debt to nominal.

The commonly accepted way to measure debt relative to a country's output is to begin with federal debt held by the public (which excludes debt in the government's "trust funds"), and then calculate it as a percentage of current dollar gross domestic product. That's the measure used by the CBO.

In its June 2012 report, the CBO made two long-term projections of debt/GDP, one keying off its "baseline scenario," which is "based on the assumption that current laws generally remain unchanged," the other off its "alternative fiscal scenario," which is based on "current policies" as opposed to "current laws." Barron's chose the more realistic "alternative fiscal scenario."

Those data showed that, by 2043, the debt/GDP ratio would rise to 250% -- a figure so high that CBO analysts decided to stop at that figure and not release figures showing it would rise even further from there, even though it clearly would. On its way to that 250%, the ratio would reach 97% by 2023.

But that 97% was already in need of downward revision. That's because, in the February 2013 10-year projection, the alternative fiscal scenario project the ratio at 87% by 2013 vs. a baseline projection of 77%.

The difference between that 77% and 87% came assuming that "automatic spending reductions established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Public Law 112-25) will take effect at the beginning of March, that sharp reductions in Medicare's payment rates for physicians' services will occur at the beginning of January 2014, and that certain tax provisions that have regularly been extended but are set to expire…will expire as scheduled" (pp. 7-8). In other words, by dropping those three assumptions, the 87% figure was generated.

But Barron's wanted to assume that the Budget Control Act of 2011 would take effect at the beginning of March. Figures in Table 1-7 of the Feb. 2013 report (pp. 32-33) showed that of the total dollar value of these three factors, the Budget Control Act accounted for half. Since it accounted for half, that meant the extra 10 percentage points should be cut in half, which meant the 87% CBO projection should scaled down to 82%.

Accordingly, the new alternative fiscal scenario adjusted for the Budget Control Act showed that the debt-GDP ratio would reach 82% by 2023 rather than 97% in the June 2012 projection. Using that downward revision as "anchor," it was calculated that all subsequent figures have to be downwardly revised not by just the difference of 15 percentage points, but proportionately by 82/97 or by 0.845.

Thus, for example, where the June 2012 projection showed debt/GDP at 199% by 2037, that got downwardly revised to 168% (199 x 0.845). Where the June 2012 projection showed debt/GDP at 250% by 2043, that got downwardly revised to 211% (250 x .845).

That data series generated the top (blue) line tracing the trajectory of the debt/GDP ratio. A similar method was followed for the other two lines.

Estimates from the U.S. Treasury for the total tax consequences over 10 years of the Bush tax cuts, combined with estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation of rescinding the Bush tax cuts for the bottom 99%, were the sources for generating figures used in the second and third trajectories.

Raising the top rate from 35% to 39.6% on the top 1% yielded extra income over 10 years of $240 billion, which came to $52.6 billion for each percentage point of hike ($240/4.6). So raising it by another 10.6 percentage points meant extra revenue of nearly $555 billion. Adding a standard 17% for savings on the cost of debt servicing brings the total reduction of the debt by 2023 to nearly $645 billion.

Since nominal GDP is projected by the CBO at $25.910 trillion by 2023 (Feb. 2013 report, Table 1-1, p. 9), that means every percentage point is worth $259 billion. If we divide $645 billion by $259 billion, we get 2.49 percentage points, which we round up to 3 percentage points.

That means adding the assumption of a tax hike on the top 1% from 39.6% to 50% subtracts another 3 percentage points from the 82% figure we already projected for 2023. We therefore have a new 2023 figure of 79% to compare to the 97% in the June 2012 report.

Again using that 79% as "anchor," it was calculated that all subsequent figures have to be downwardly revised not by just the difference of 18 percentage points, but proportionately by 79/97 or by 0.814.

Thus, for example, where the June 2012 projection showed debt/GDP at 199% by 2037, that got downwardly revised to 162% (199 x 0.814). Where the June 2012 projection showed debt/GDP at 250% by 2043, that got downwardly revised to 203% (250 x .814).

For the third projection, we added the assumption that the Bush tax cuts get immediately rolled back for the bottom 99%, estimated to be worth $762 billion over 10 years. Again adding the extra 17% for the reduced cost of servicing the debt, we get a total debt reduction of $892 billion.

Again, since nominal GDP is projected by the CBO at $25.910 trillion by 2023 (Feb. 2013 report, Table 1-1, p. 9), that means every percentage point is worth $259 billion. If we divide $892 billion by $259 billion, we get 3.44 percentage points, which we round up to 4 percentage points.

That means adding the assumption of rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the bottom 99% subtracts another 4 percentage points from the 82% figure we already projected for 2023. We therefore have a new 2023 figure of 79% to compare to the 97% in the June 2012 report.

Again using that 79% as "anchor," it was calculated that all subsequent figures have to be downwardly revised not by just the difference of 18 percentage points, but proportionately by 75/97 or by 0.773

Thus, for example, where the June 2012 projection showed debt/GDP at 199% by 2037, that got downwardly revised to 154% (199 x 0.773). Where the June 2012 projection showed debt/GDP at 250% by 2043, that got downwardly revised to 193% (250 x 0.773).

The CBO will update its long-term projections in June of this year. These estimates by Barron's are our best guess of what those projections will look like.

YOU CAN MASSAGE THE NUMBERS ANYWAY YOU LIKE, THEY ARE ALL OPTIMISTIC BULLSHIT. WE ARE SPENDING FAR TOO MUCH, AND NO ONE WANTS TO STOP SPENDING. I GUARANTEE THAT LOOKING BACK IN TEN YEARS, WE WILL ALL WISH THE REAL NUMBERS WERE AS LOW AS THESE PROJECTIONS AND WE WILL ALL WISH WE HAD QUIT SPENDING. POLITICIANS ARE A SOCIAL DISEASE AND JUST LIKE SYPHILIS, THEY WILL, IN THE END, DRIVE YOU COMPLETELY INSANE! 

The game of depending on ever-expanding debt and exports for growth is over........AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ!

The game of depending on ever-expanding debt and exports for growth is over.

When the global financial pie is expanding, there's plenty of swag for everyone, so competition is limited and cooperation is rewarded. If we step back, what is most striking about China's emergence in the global economy over the past 30 years is how little actual conflict between global players this generated.

The reason is obvious: China's rapid development and integration into the global economy created vast markets and profits for every major global player: the U.S., the European Union, Japan, southeast Asia, Russia, the petro-states and commodity states.

The conflicts were by and large mere jostling and squabbling; even the supposedly important issues such as Chinese purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds, and China's subsequent trimming of its Treasury holdings, had little discernible effect on global trade or profits.

To fully understand why this period of cooperation is ending and competition is heating up, we need to understand two key dynamics of global capitalism. The return on capital invested in material production systemically declines as urbanization raises wages, externalized costs (pollution and resource depletion) come home to roost and the central state raises taxes to pay for rising social welfare and income security programs.

The solution is to move production to locales with low wages, no environmental protection and low taxes. This is precisely what China (and other emerging economies in Asia such as Indonesia and Vietnam) offered the developed economies.

The other solution was to move capital in the domestic home economies from marginally profitable production to highly profitable financialization: securitizing home mortgages, originating derivatives, leveraging debt and all the other tricks of the financialization trade.

Together, these two shifts of capital quadrupled global wealth in a mere 17 years: assets rose from $51 trillion in 1990 to nearly $200 trillion in 2007: AT THIS POINT, YOU SHOULD BE SAYING TO YOURSELF, THE WHOLE THING IS A MIRAGE. LIKE THE SONG SAYS, MONEY FROM NOTHING........



Global stock market capitalization rose from $11 trillion in 1990 to $65 trillion in 2007. This was largely the result of massive profits generated by shifting production overseas and from the financialization of the domestic economies.  DO YOU REALLY THINK IT CAN BE SUSTAINED WITH MORE MAGIC?

As a result, stock market valuations broke away from the real economy of goods and services reflected in the GDP (gross domestic product): AGAIN, DO YOU REALLY THINK THIS IS SUSTAINABLE? F
rom $11 trillion in 1990 to $65 trillion in 2007. REALLY!



Our current model of financialization is fundamentally an exploitative parasitic skimming of wealth, and so it has limits--limits that follow an S-curve:



The most important feature of the chart of global assets is that it has clearly topped out in an S-curve. After a rapid ascent, asset growth has gone nowhere for years; even worse, the riskiness of these asset classes is leaking through the propaganda.

It is not coincidental that shadow banking assets expanded at an explosive pace.



Shadow banking has also topped out. (Although it is beyond the scope of this essay, it should be noted that China has a vast and generally misunderstood shadow banking system that includes private wealth instruments and local government development deals. Though data is difficult to come by, China's shadow banking system has also topped out as well.)

What hasn't topped out is debt, both sovereign and private, which has reached unsustainable heights. 

Does anyone seriously believe these trends are sustainable?



Here is U.S. Federal debt, which is clearly following an exponential curve:



This brings us to the second dynamic of global capitalism: when the expansion ends, competition heats up as sovereign nations and global corporations alike battle for a slice of stagnant markets and shrinking profits. Wages in China have risen by 40% or more in the past few years, and the central state has started taxing individuals and businesses. Off-the-chart smog in Beijing and other cities (the most visible externalized costs) is forcing the Chinese government to tax and spend on basic environmental regulation and cleanup.

As a result, profits are harder to come by and production is leaving for cheaper climes.

In other words, the easy-money party is over for both China and financialization. Now that these profit centers have matured, global capital is struggling, not just to find a profitable, safe home but to keep from imploding as the risks of financialization are becoming more difficult to mask.

This is why many nations are currently resorting to outright currency devaluations: their ability to service rapidly rising debt is decaying along with global profits. 

The competition for global capital is heating up, as every major player faces a Hobson's Choice: they can print or create debt-money to fund their debt and risk inflation strangling their economy, or they can raise interest rates to attract global capital. This increases the costs of their debt service, crimping further borrowing.

Either way, the game of depending on ever-expanding debt and exports for growth is over.

This global competition is playing out on multiple interlocking levels. For example, since the chief export of America is dollars, the U.S. can create as much money as it pleases and export inflation to everyone accepting dollars for payment. Given that China is also creating vast quantities of debt-money itself, inflation in China is unavoidable.

China Accounts For Nearly Half Of World's New Money Supply. 

Between January 2005 and January 2013, Chinese bank deposits have soared by a whopping $11 trillion, rising from $4 trillion to $15 trillion! We have no idea what the real Chinese GDP number is but this expansion alone is anywhere between 200 and 300% of the real GDP as it stands now.

China knows that it is this close from setting off another inflationary conflagration, with the help of Bernanke, Draghi, Carney et al of course. And it will be runaway Chinese inflation, once more like in the spring and summer of 2011, that will be the gating factor on the current bout of monetary injection lunacy that has gripped the developed world's central banks.

Everyone needs to create more debt to keep their debt pile from collapsing, and sell their surplus production to someone else to generate the cash needed to service the debt. 

Everyone is running the same debt-dependent, export-dependent game except the U.S., which by default is able to trade paper money for real goods and services because the other players have no other market of size to sell to.

The organs of propaganda are claiming global growth is still rapid and sustainable, but this growth is of the diminishing-return variety, based entirely on ballooning debt that is malinvested or squandered on current consumption.

We can anticipate global players will pursue ever more desperate measures to keep their debt-ships afloat, and this zero-sum competition will generate more conflicts. 

We can also anticipate that these conflicts will become increasingly unpredictable, as the global economy's phantom assets and unpayable debts have reached unprecedented levels.

THESE ARE FACTS, NOT OPINIONS. HISTORICAL PRECEDENT POINTS TO WHERE WE ARE HEADED, AND IT IS NOT THE COMFORTABLE, THEORETICAL FANTASY LAND OF RECOVERY THAT THE FED WOULD LIKE YOU TO BELIEVE THAT IT IS.

Another warning signal for European capitals.......

Another warning signal for European capitals

If the latest economic projections from the European Commission are to be believed, expect greater socio-political fragility in 2013.

By Mohamed El-Erian

The European Commission (EC) published its winter projections Friday. They point to further economic contraction and worsening debt dynamics this year. 

Let us start with the official numbers, focusing on five items:

After contracting in real terms by 0.6% in 2012, the GDP of the 17-member eurozone is projected to decline by another 0.3% in 2013. Accordingly, and despite forecasting an improving budgetary outlook, the debt burden would maintain its upward trajectory, rising by another 2 percentage points of GDP. Meanwhile, the alarming unemployment situation would worsen, with the overall rate increasing from 11.4% to 12.2%.

These disappointing projections are not limited to the struggling peripheral economies. The largest economies at the core of the eurozone are expected to expand marginally (Germany at 0.5%) or stagnate (France). And with this, joblessness in the core would edge higher.

Italy and Spain, viewed correctly by many as central to the stability of the eurozone, would contract by 1.0% and 1.4%, respectively. This would push unemployment up to 11.6% in Italy and to a stunning 26.9% in Spain.

Intra-eurozone dispersion would remain significant. With a projected 3% growth rate, Estonia would again lead the pack while Greece, expected to contract by another 4.4% would come last once more.
Finally, the EC forecasts a notable recovery in 2014, though this does not incorporate likely changes in the fiscal policy stance.  Specifically, every eurozone country (except Cyprus) is projected to grow, with the area's growth rate coming in at 1.4% --  encouraging, though not enough to dramatically change the unemployment picture.

If these projections are to be believed, they point to greater socio-political fragility in 2013. Specifically, the wave of popular dissatisfaction sweeping across Europe would persist. Street protests would remain a recurrent theme, especially in the peripheral economies. And traditional political structures would come under greater pressure, without a durable alternative emerging any time soon.

The longer such malaise persists, the greater the challenges facing the European Central Bank in its (so far successful) quest to maintain financial stability – reinforcing the view that the ECB can provide a bridge to a better destination but cannot, on its own, deliver this destination.


All this should be ringing loud alarm bells in national capitals, as well as in the EC's headquarters in Brussels and the ECB's Frankfurt.

A renewed effort is needed to make progress on key regional initiatives (including supplementing monetary union with greater fiscal and banking union and closer political integration) and in ensuring a better macro-economic/structural policy mix in several individual countries.

This urgent call for action is amplified by what we feel are still overly optimistic EC projections. For example, PIMCO projects the eurozone could contract by 1 – 1.5% this year rather than the EC's 0.6%.

It is essential that politicians take advantage of the current ECB bridge, acting now to provide citizens with greater hope of a significant turnaround. Absent that, policy challenges will mount, and the eurozone will face a growing number of disruptive feedback loops involving economic, financial, political and social factors.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

THE STORMS OF LIFE.........He Will Sustain You

The Lord Will Sustain You

"Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward."  
                                                                                             Job 5:7     
                                                                                    

It starts almost the second we're born. We're born crying, and from there it just goes on and on. We have burdens. If you don't have burdens, the problem is you're probably not a thinking person. But I want to tell you today what to do with your burdens.

David wrote, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." David was a king; he was wealthy. What do we learn from this? That burdens come to the high as well as to the low. They come to saints as well as sinners. They come to the old as well as the young. What do we do with our burdens? We have to cast them upon the Lord.

Do you have a broken heart?  Has one of your children ripped your heart out? Is there a husband who has forsaken you? A physical malady gnawing away at your body? Is there a problem perplexing you? The Bible says you are to cast your burden upon the Lord (Psalm 55:22). 

He will sustain you.

IT’S ALWAYS THE BEST TIME TO BUY.....AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ!

IT'S ALWAYS THE BEST TIME TO BUY


MOST REALTORS AND REAL ESTATE EXPERTS ARE AMERICAS VERSION OF BAGHDAD BOB, REMEMBER HIM?  

"The continuing shortages of housing inventory are driving the price gains. There is no evidence of bubbles popping." – David Lereah, NAR mouthpiece/economist – August 2005

"The steady improvement in home sales will support price appreciation despite all the wild projections by academics, Wall Street analysts, and others in the media." – David Lereah, NAR mouthpiece/economist – January 10, 2007

"Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady. In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We've transitioned into a seller's market in much of the country. We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring, but it may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth." – Lawrence Yun – NAR mouthpiece/economist – February 21, 2013  THE CURRENT LOAD OF BULLSHIT FROM THE NAR's CURRENT LIAR IN CHIEF!

I really need to stop being so pessimistic. I'm getting richer by the day. My home value is rising at a rate of 1% per month according to the National Association of Realtors. At that rate, my house will be worth $10 million in less than 10 years. My condos and ranch real estate will make me rich beyond my wildest dreams. 

Larry Yun, the brilliant economic genius employed by the upstanding and truth telling NAR, reported that median home prices soared by 12.3% in January (down 3.7% from December) over the prior year and there is virtually no inventory left to sell – with a mere 1.75 million homes in inventory – the lowest level since 1999. 

The median sales price of $173,600 is up "dramatically" from last year's $154,500 level. I'm sure the NAR meant to mention that home prices are still down 25% from the 2005 high of $230,000. 

Every mainstream media newspaper, magazine, and news channel is telling me the "strong" housing recovery is propelling the economy and creating millions of new jobs. 

Keynesian economists, Wall Street bankers, government apparatchiks and housing trade organizations are all in agreement that the wealth effect from rising home prices will be the jumpstart our economy needs to get back to the glory days of 2005. Who am I to argue with such honorable men with degrees from Ivy League schools and a track record of unquestioned accuracy as we can see in the chart below?

 

Mr. Lereah added to his sterling reputation with his insightful prescient book Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust—And How You Can Profit from It, which was published in February 2006. I understand Ben Bernanke has a signed copy on his nightstand. According to this hack, he voluntarily decided to leave the NAR in mid-2007 as home prices began their 40% plunge over the next four years. He then admitted in an interview with Money Magazine in 2009 that he was nothing but a shill for the real estate industry, no different than a whore doing tricks for $20. Except he was whoring himself for millions of dollars and contributing to the biggest financial fraud in world history:

"I was pressured by executives to issue optimistic forecasts — then was left to shoulder the blame when things went sour. I was there for seven years doing everything they wanted me to. I worked for an association promoting housing, and it was my job to represent their interests. If you look at my actual forecasts, the numbers were right in line with most forecasts. BUT NOT WITH THE FACTS OR REALITY! The difference was that I put a positive spin on it. It was easy to do during boom times, harder when times weren't good. I never thought the whole national real estate market would burst." IN OTHER WORDS HE DIDN'T THINK HE WOULD GET CAUGHT LOOKING LIKE THE BIGGEST IDIOT ON THE PLANET, WHICH IS WHAT HE MAY BE. DITTO THE CURRENT NAR SHILL IN CHIEF, MR. YUN! SAME CAN BE SAID FOR ALL OF THE SHILLS IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY AND THEY ARE ALL SHILLS, TALKING THEIR OWN BOOKS AND SELF INTEREST, FALSE HOPE AND OPTIMISM, WHILE COMPLETELY IGNORING THE FACTS AND REALITY!

After Mr. Lereah slithered away from his post he was replaced by the next snake – Lawrence Yun. He proceeded to put the best face possible on the greatest housing collapse in recorded history, assuring the public it was the best time to buy during the entire slide. Five million foreclosures later he's still telling us it's the best time to buy. 

Why shouldn't we believe the National Association of Realtors and the mainstream media that report their propaganda as indisputable fact?  After all these noble realtors only have the best interests of their clients at heart. Remember when they warned people about the dangers of liar loans, negative amortization loans, appraisal fraud, nefarious mortgage brokers, criminal bankers, corrupt ratings agencies and the fact that home prices had reached a high two standard deviations above the normal trend? Oh yeah. They didn't make a peep. NOT A SINGLE ONE THAT I KNOW OF DID! YET THEY ARE CERTAINLY TELLING THE TRUTH THIS TIME, RIGHT!?

They disputed and ridiculed Robert Shiller and anyone else who dared question the healthy "strong" housing market storyline. In late 2011 this superb, above board, truth telling organization admitted what many financial analysts and "crazy" bloggers had been pointing out for years. They were lying about home sales. Their data was false. 

Between 2007 and 2010, the NAR reported 2.95 million more home sales than had actually occurred.

This was not a rounding error. This was not a flaw in their methodology, as they claimed. It was an outright fraudulent attempt to convince the public that the housing market was not in free fall. These guys make the BLS look accurate and above board.  

 

We are now expected to believe their monthly reports as if they are gospel. The mainstream media continues to report their drivel about the lowest inventory level in 14 years without the slightest hint of skepticism. BELOW YOU WILL FIND THAT REALITY IS ONCE AGAIN FAR DIFFERENT, THAN WHAT THE NAR AND THE MEDIA ARE REPORTING!

The Incredible Shrinking Inventory

We are told by good old Larry Yun that there are only 1.74 million homes left for sale in this country and at current sales rates we'll run out of inventory in 4.2 months. Oh the horror. You better buy now, before it's too late. We must be running out of houses. Someone call Bob Toll. We need more houses built ASAP, before this becomes a crisis. 

But there seems to be problem with this storyline. 

Existing home sales are falling. Even using the NAR seasonally manipulated numbers, sales in January were lower than in November. In a country with 133 million housing units, there were 291,000 existing home sales in January. If there is an inventory shortage, why have new home sales fallen every month since May of 2012? 

There were a total of 10,000 completed new homes sold in December in the entire country. Housing starts plunged by 8.5% in January. Does this happen when you have a strong housing market? Do you believe the NAR inventory figure of 1.74 million homes for sale? The last time the months of supply was this low was early 2005 – during the good old days.



Let's examine a few facts to determine the true nature of this shocking inventory shortage. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau:

There are 133 million housing units in the United States. 

There are 115 million occupied housing units in the country, with 75 million owner occupied and 40 million renter occupied.

For the math challenged this means that 13.5%, or 18 million housing units, are vacant.

Only 4.3 million are considered summer homes, and 3.9 million are available for rent. 

That leaves 9.8 million homes completely vacant.

The Census Bureau specifically identifies 1.6 million of these vacant housing units as up for sale.

So, with 9.8 million vacant housing units in the country and 1.6 million of these identified as for sale, the NAR and media mouthpieces have the balls to report only 1.74 million homes for sale in the entire U.S. This doesn't even take into account the massive shadow inventory stuck in the foreclosure pipeline. Of the 75 million owner-occupied housing units in the country, 50 million have a mortgage. Of these houses, a full 10.9% are either delinquent or in the foreclosure process. This totals 5.4 million households, with 1.9 million of these households already in the foreclosure process. The number of distressed households is still double the long-term average, even with historically low mortgage rates, multiple government mortgage relief programs (HARP), and Fannie, Freddie and the FHA guaranteeing 90% of all mortgages. 

Do you think the NAR is including any of these 5.4 million distressed houses in their inventory numbers? AS YOU WILL SEE, THEY ARE NOT!

 

Then we have the little matter of a few home occupiers still underwater on their mortgages. After this fabulous two year housing recovery touted by shills and shysters, only 27.5% of ALL mortgage holders are underwater on their mortgage. This means 13.8 million households are in a negative equity position. Those with 5% or less equity are effectively underwater since closing costs usually exceed 6% of the house's value. That adds another 2.2 million households to the negative equity bucket. Do you think any of these 16 million households would be selling if they could?   ONCE AGAIN, 
AS YOU WILL SEE, THEY ARE NOT!

U.S. homeowners with a mortgage are slowly gaining equity back in their homes. 

The negative equity position of millions of homeowners gets at the gist of the effort to re-inflate the housing bubble. By artificially pumping up home prices, the Wall Street titans and their co-conspirators at the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department are attempting to repair insolvent Wall Street bank balance sheets, lure unsuspecting dupes back into the housing market, reignite the economy through the old stand-by wealth effect, and of course enrich themselves and their crony capitalist friends. 

The artificial suppression of home inventory has been working wonders, as 2 million homeowners were freed from negative equity in 2012. If they can only lure enough suckers back into the pool, all will be well. Phoenix must have an inordinate number of chumps with home prices rising by 22.5% in 2012 as investors and flippers poured into the market with cheap debt and big dreams. Of course everything is relative, as prices are still down 44% from the peak and 40% of mortgages remain underwater. I strongly urge everyone without a functioning brain to pour their life savings into the Phoenix housing market. Larry Yun says it's a can't miss path to riches.  

Despite the propaganda, hyperbole, and cheerleading from the corporate media, the fact remains that national homeowner's equity is barely above its all-time low of 38%, down from 62% in 2000 and 70% in 1980. 

The NAR shills, Federal Reserve money pushers, Wall Street shysters, and pliant media lured the middle class into the false belief that housing was an asset class that could make you rich. Homes became the major portion of middle class net worth. As prices were driven higher from 2000 through 2006, the middle class took the bait hook line and sinker and borrowed billions against their ever increasing faux housing wealth. This set up the impending collapse of middle class net worth, created by the 1%ers on Wall Street, in Washington DC, and in corporate executive suites across the land.  

The median American household lost 47% of its wealth between 2007 and 2010. Average household wealth, which is skewed dramatically by the richest Americans, declined by only 18%. Real estate only accounts for 30% of the net worth of the rich. For the middle 60%, housing has risen from 62% to 67% of total wealth since 1983. Middle class families' saw their cash cushion fall from 21% in 1983 to 8% before the crash. They were convinced that living on Wall Street peddled debt was the path to prosperity. 

After the crash, the middle class has been left with no cash, underwater mortgages, declining real wages, less jobs, and a mountain of credit card debt. Delusions have been crushed. But an on-line degree from the University of Phoenix funded by a Federal student loan of $20,000 will surely revive the fortunes of the average unemployed middle class worker.  

 

Despite the destruction of middle class hopes, dreams, and net worth, the ruling plutocracy has decided the best way to revive their fortunes is to lure the ignorant masses into more student loan debt, auto debt and mortgage debt.

Don't Look Behind the Curtain. 

"The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted." 

 Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited

 

What is normal in a profoundly abnormal, manipulated, propaganda driven society? The NAR and Federal government issue their public relations announcements every month and attempt to spin straw into gold. The media then fulfill their assigned role by touting the results as unequivocal proof of an economic recovery. This is all designed to revive the animal spirits of the clueless public. 

Statistics in the hands of those who have no regard for the truth can be manipulated to portray any storyline that serves their corrupt purposes. 

When I see a story about the housing market referencing a percentage increase as proof of a recovery I know it's time to check the charts. You see, even a fractional increase from an all-time low will generate an impressive percentage increase. 

So let's go to the charts in search of this blossoming housing recovery.

The media, NAHB, and certain bloggers look at the chart below and declare that new home sales are up 20% from 2011 levels. Sounds awesome. 

I look at this chart and note that 2011 was the lowest number of new home sales in U.S. history. I look at this chart and note that new home sales are 75% below the peak in 2005. I look at this chart and note that new home sales are lower today than at the bottom of every recession over the last fifty years. I look at this chart and note that new home sales are lower today than they were in 1963, when the population of the United States was a mere 189 million, 40% less than today's population. 

Do you see any signs of a strong housing recovery in this chart?   IF YOU DO YOU ARE JUST THE KIND OF CHUMP THE NAR, THE MEDIA AND OUR GOVERNMENT ARE LOOKING FOR! 

 

The housing cheerleaders look at the next chart below and crow about a 75% increase in housing starts. I look at this chart and note that housing starts in 2009 were the lowest in recorded U.S. history. I look at this chart and note that total housing starts are down 60% and single family starts are down 70% from 2006 highs. I look at this chart and note the "surge" in housing starts is completely being driven by apartment construction, because the student loan indebted youth can't afford to buy houses. I look at this chart and note that housing starts are 40% below 1968 levels. 

Again, do you see any signs of a strong housing recovery in this chart?  DON'T BE A CHUMP! DON'T DENY REALITY, IT REALLY IS THAT BAD, FACTS DON'T LIE!     

 

Those trying to lure the gullible non-thinking masses into paying inflated prices for the "few" houses available for sale declare that existing home sales are up 50% in the last two years. Of course, the 3.3 million low in 2010 was the lowest level in decades. Existing home sales are still 30% below the 2005 high of 7.2 million and the abnormal structure of these home sales is dramatically different than the normal sales of yesteryear.



The wizards behind the curtain don't want you to understand how the 50% increase in existing home sales has been achieved. They just want you to be convinced that a return to normalcy has happened and it's the best time to buy. 

The NAR wizards and the media wizards don't publicize the composition of these skyrocketing sales. At the end of the NAR "buy a home before it's too late" monthly press release you find out that distressed homes (foreclosed & short sales) now make up 23% of all home sales and have accounted for well over 30% of all home sales since 2010. Another 28% of home sales are all-cash sales to investors looking to turn them into rental units or flip them for a quick buck. Lastly, 30% of homes are being bought by first time home buyer pansies who have been lured into the market by 3.5% down payment loans through the FHA, with the future losses born by middle class taxpayers who had no say in the matter. 

Prior to the housing crash, normal buyers who just wanted a place to live, accounted for 90% of all home purchases. Today they make up less than 30% of home buyers. Does this chart portray a normal market or a profoundly abnormal market? Does it portray a healthy housing recovery based upon sound economic fundamentals?  IT IS A FINANCIAL IQ TEST FOLKS!    

all cash buyers 

The contrived elevation of home sales and home prices has been engineered by the very same culprits who crashed our financial system in the first place. 

This has been planned, coordinated and implemented by a conspiracy of the ruling oligarchy – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, U.S. Treasury, NAR, and the corporate media conglomerates. Ben's job was to screw senior citizens and drive interest rates low enough that everyone in the country could refinance, attract investors & flippers into the market, and propel home prices higher. 

Wall Street has been the linchpin to the whole sordid plan. They were tasked with drastically limiting the foreclosure pipeline, thus creating a fake shortage of inventory. Next, JP Morgan, Blackrock, Citi, Bank of America, and dozens of other private equity firms have partnered with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, using free money provided by Ben Bernanke, to create investment funds to buy up millions of distressed properties and convert them into rental properties, further reducing the inventory of homes for sale and driving prices higher. 

Only the connected crony capitalists on Wall Street are getting a piece of this action. The Wall Street elite have screwed the American middle class coming and going. The NAR and media are tasked with what they do best – spew propaganda, misinform, lie, cheerlead and attempt to create a buying frenzy among the willfully ignorant masses. 

The chart below reveals the truth about the strong sustainable housing recovery. It doesn't exist. 

Mortgage applications by real people who want to live in a home are no higher than they were in 2010 when home sales were 33% lower than today. Mortgage applications are lower than they were in 1997 when 4 million existing homes were sold versus the 5 million pace today. 

The housing recovery is just another Wall Street scam designed to bilk the American middle class of what remains of their net worth. YOU ARE A CHUMP IF YOU BELIEVE OTHERWISE!

 


The multi-faceted plan to keep this teetering edifice from collapsing is being executed according to the mandates of the financial class:

Distribute hundreds of billions in student loans to artificially suppress the unemployment rate, while the BLS adjusts millions more out of the labor force – CHECK

Have Ally Financial (80% owned by Obama) and Wall Street banks dole out subprime auto loans to millions and offer 7 year financing at 0%, while GM (Government Motors) channel stuffs its dealers, to create the appearance of an auto recovery – CHECK   

I KNOW MANY OWNERS OF DEALERSHIPS AND THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING, THEY HAVE PROFITED FOR NOW BUT THEY KNOW WHAT IS COMING AND THEY ARE ALL VERY WORRIED. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE &%*$ HITS THE FAN AGAIN , INTEREST RATES RISE AND ALL THE FREE MONEY IS GONE. THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY BRANDS, WAY TOO MANY DEALERS, THERE WILL BE A TON OF LEASED AND DISTRESSED USED CARS THAT HIT THE MARKET AND THERE WILL BE NO ONE WITH FREE MONEY LEFT TO BUY. SHOW ROOMS WILL BE A VERY LONELY PLACE. CAR SALESMEN AND DEALERSHIP EMPLOYEES AND OWNERS ARE THE NEXT WAVE OF REALTORS THAT WILL HIT THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINES. COUNT ON IT!

Drive mortgage rates down, restrict home supply through foreclosure market manipulation, shift the risk of losses to the taxpayer, and allow Wall Street to control the housing market – CHECK

Have the corporate mainstream media continuously spout optimistic, positive puff pieces designed to convince an ignorant, apathetic public that the economy is improving, jobs are being created, and housing has recovered – CHECK

Free money, government subsidies, no regulation, Wall Street hubris, get rich quick schemes, media propaganda, and an ignorant public – what could possibly go wrong?  

Here is what could and will go wrong. Everyone in the country that could refinance to a mortgage rate of 4% or lower has done so. Contrary to Bernanke's rhetoric that "QE to Infinity" would lower mortgage rates, they have just risen to a six month high as the 10 Year Treasury rose 60 basis points from its 2012 low. 

If mortgage rates just rose to a modest 5% the housing market would come to a grinding halt as no one would trade a 3.5% mortgage for a 5% mortgage. 

As I've detailed earlier, there are 3.9 vacant housing units available for rent. Almost half of the new housing units under construction are apartments. The Wall Street shysters are converting millions of foreclosed homes into rental units. This avalanche of rental properties will depress rents and destroy the modeled ROI calculations of the brilliant Wall Street Ivy league MBAs. 

These lemmings will all attempt to exit their "investments" at the same time. The FHA is already broke. The mounting losses from their 3.5% down payment to future deadbeats program will force them to curtail this taxpayer financed debacle. There will be few first time home buyers, as young people saddled with a trillion dollars of student loan debt are incapable of buying a home.

These are the facts. Mathematical certainties in a rising rate environment because no one wants to lose money! 

But why trust facts when you can believe Baghdad Ben and the NAR? It's always the best time to buy.

IF YOU BELIEVE THE FED CAN KEEP THINGS UNDER CONTROL INDEFINITELY YOU ARE INDEED A CHUMP. BUY, BUY, BUY!

  
  08-08-12c_baghdad_bob.jpg

"All that said, given the fundamental factors in place that should support the demand for housing, we believe the effect of the troubles in the subprime sector on the broader housing market will likely be limited, and we do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system.  The vast majority of mortgages, including even subprime mortgages, continue to perform well.  Past gains in house prices have left most homeowners with significant amounts of home equity, and growth in jobs and incomes should help keep the financial obligations of most households manageable." 

                                                  Ben Bernanke – May 17, 2007

AND YOU THOUGHT THE FED HAD THINGS UNDER CONTROL...... ALL I CAN SAY IS, UNSUSTAINABLE!

BY THE WAY, YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR WORKS THE SAME WAY, OF COURSE "IT'S ALWAYS THE BEST TIME TO BUY STOCKS TOO", OR YOU WILL MISS OUT!

CAVEAT EMPTOR!

DON'T BE A CHUMP!

 

Sometimes you CAN "Fight the Fed".......AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ!

Sometimes you CAN "Fight the Fed"

Comstock

The Fed's current attempt to control long term rates, "QE to infinity", is based on the hope that by providing cheap money, banking and financial firms will lend and thereby stimulate the economy.  This would be a sound plan if the problem with the US economy was a shortage of credit.  With corporations holding back cash and depending on productivity gains to drive earnings, the typical recovery scenario where the private sector borrows money for investment and drives job growth and ultimately demand, is not materializing. IT WILL NEVER WORK! 

Demonstrably cheap money is not the answer.  

The real constraint on the economy is two pronged: 

1. expectations of low growth keep corporations from investing funds and instead they hold large sums of cash on their balance sheets and 

2. continued high unemployment and a continued deleveraging of household debt keeps consumers from spending at an ever increasing rate.  

We have discussed this before and used the term to describe it as a "liquidity trap." Despite the evidence that QE is not working as planned (employment and GDP remain lackluster) the Fed continues on this course as QE has become the proverbial financial crack pipe that allows the asset markets to continue higher and higher.

Surely inflating housing, stock and bond prices by governmental money printing is a good thing, right?  Ask Alan Greenspan how well the Fed's last foray into propping up asset prices worked out for them.  

Every time the government decides to manipulate markets, there are many very unpleasant unintended consequences. 

Under Greenspan artificially low rates were used to expand the housing market and allow businesses and consumers to get cheap money to leverage up their balance sheets.  As we all know, it ended very badly. 

The unintended consequences were that the entire financial system almost collapsed and the stock market had its worst retracement since the Great Depression. EVEN WORSE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES LIE AHEAD. 

The real danger of QE is not the risk of hyperinflation, but the possibility that there is a "bubble" created in the bond market by artificial government purchases and that eventually there will be some failed auctions followed by a quick sharp rise in rates.  This rise in rates will affect mortgages, consumer debt and, perhaps most alarmingly, the Federal debt cost.  A quick rise in mortgage rates will not only slow down home purchases, but will add to the costs of anyone who has an adjustable rate.  The Shadow Inventory which is still estimated at over 2.3 million homes will start to increase again as people are unable to make the drastically higher mortgage payments.  Car loans, credit card payments, student loans and other consumer debt costs will increase and further dampen demand. Inflated asset prices will turn over violently.

While many pundits agree that the bond market will eventually pay for the Fed induced asset inflation, they do not seem to be outwardly worried about a quick, vicious rise in long term rates and the financial calamity to follow. Goldman Sachs, however, has recently reduced its exposure to the bond market while at the same time has locked in low borrowing costs to the tune of $8 billion. They expect a 25% drop in bond prices.

Many credit Albert Einstein with defining insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." The Bernanke Fed's use of Quantitative Easing may seem different than the easy money policies of the Greenspan Fed on the surface, but the ultimate payoff of artificially inflated asset prices will end up with similar results.  

And by the look of the S&P 500's long term chart, it looks like it is about to peak soon, and form a significant triple top with the 2000 and 2007 peaks.

KNOWING WHEN TO BUY AND SELL...........

At every top in a market, any market, there are 100 reasons to buy. That's why you should sell. When everyone knows how good the story is, there are no more buyers and the market can only go down. Tops tend to be blow offs where something goes vertical and then crashes down.

At every bottom in a market, any market, there are 100 reasons to sell. That's why you should buy. When everyone knows how terrible things are, there are no more sellers, only buyers and the market can only go up.
Bottoms tend to be shallow and much more subtle.

In any market, TOP OR BOTTOMBUYING OR SELLING, it is far better to be a day early, than a moment late. Hesitating to do what you know you should do will in the end, cost you a great deal of money!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

THE STORMS OF LIFE.......THE ONLY HOPE THAT MATTERS, JESUS


"Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." 

                                                                                1 Peter 5:7

When life gets rough...  really ROUGH, and when human help isn't enough:

• you can pretend it will be ok
• you can drown in despair
• or you can find real and certain hope from that old lighthouse still shining through the darkness.

Trials are woven into the very fabric of life. No matter who you are, stormy seas are a reality - and they almost always appear when you least expect them!

But how do you weather the storms of life? How do you turn your personal trials into triumphs? If ever someone suffered trials and experienced the stormy seas of life...it was the Apostle Paul. And yet with all he suffered, he found great joy in life.

You can too! Through all the trials you face, you can be assured God is continually shaping you to be more powerful for Him...to turn your trials into triumphs through trust in Him.

I read about a man who had a dog. The man called the dog to go home. The dog was having such a great time, he wouldn't come. So the man picked up a stick and threw it in the water. When the dog saw the stick, he instinctively swam to the stick, put it in his mouth, came back, and laid it at his master's feet.

I wonder if the burden you have has been given to you by God to cause you to come to His feet. Maybe He's called you other ways, but you wouldn't come. Maybe the burden is what God is using to bring you to your Master's feet. But thank God we can cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us.

Do you have hope for your future? Or do you generally expect negative or disappointing things to happen?

The truth is, God doesn't work in us through negative attitudes full of self-pity, laziness, passivity or an "everybody owes me" perspective. God works through faith! But before we can have faith, we have to have hope.

Hope is favorable and confident expectation; it's an expectant attitude that something good is going to happen and things will work out, no matter what situation we're facing.

Zechariah 9:12 says, "Return to the stronghold of security and prosperity, you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you."

I like the phrase "prisoners of hope." Think about it… If you're a prisoner, you have no choice about it – you can't be negative. And when times are tough or you're dealing with disappointment, hope will cause you to rise up in faith and say, "God, I praise You and I believe You're working on this situation and working in me. My faith, trust and hope are in You!"

Hope is determined and doesn't give up. God wants us to be locked up in hope, trusting that He can change what needs to be changed, that we can do what He wants us to do, and that all things are possible with God. If we will be steadfast in our hope, we can't lose – we have to be winners in life.


Human nature is impatient, selfish and wants things quickly. Why is it that although it takes us years to get into our messes, we expect God to get us out of them in a few days?

In John 16:33, Jesus tells us that we are going to have tribulation, trials, distress and frustration in this world, but in spite of that, we can be of good cheer and take heart. Why? Because He has overcome the world. And when we live in Him, we become overcomers too!

That's why Jesus died for us. He came to save us from sin and death and to give us abundant life – now. 

Make a decision to have everything Jesus died to give you. You have to do it on purpose.
Be determined to do what God wants you to do and refuse to live with negative expectations. Ask God to help you live in hope and declare by faith, "Something good is going to happen to me!"


We don't always realize it at the time. But there is a reason for everything that happens under heaven. There's a reason why we experience what we experience. And like Paul, we can have faith that in all things God will work for the good of those who love Him.

That's the kind of faith Paul had. He EXPECTED God to be there for Him! He expected God to keep His word. He had faith that God could get him through every storm in life. How do I know that? 

Because 2 Timothy 4:18 says; 

"The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom."

Jesus Christ: the Anchor of Hope.

DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED, THERE IS HOPE, HIS NAME IS JESUS