Saturday, April 9, 2022

"Weird Signs We Are Headed to a Recession"

Full screen recommended.
Dan, iAllegedly PM 4/9/22:
"Weird Signs We Are Headed to a Recession"
"It is crazy when you look at all the warning signs through history right before a recession has happened. Unfortunately history is repeating itself right before our eyes. People either want to accept that an economic downturn is coming in a big way or they wanna bury their heads in the sand."

“Banks Don’t Have Cash? Coming Crash Will Be Biblical; Used Car Prices Drop; FED Will Hit Brakes”

Jeremiah Babe, PM 4/9/22:
“Banks Don’t Have Cash? Coming Crash Will Be Biblical; 
Used Car Prices Drop; FED Will Hit Brakes”

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Sea of Dreams"

2002, "Sea of Dreams"

"A Look to the Heavens"

“From Sagittarius to Carina, the Milky Way Galaxy shines in this dark night sky above planet Earth’s lush island paradise of Mangaia. Familiar to denizens of the southern hemisphere, the gorgeous skyscape includes the bulging galactic center at the upper left and bright stars Alpha and Beta Centauri just right of center. About 10 kilometers wide, volcanic Mangaia is the southernmost of the Cook Islands. Geologists estimate that at 18 million years old it is the oldest island in the Pacific Ocean.
Of course, the Milky Way is somewhat older, with the galaxy’s oldest stars estimated to be over 13 billion years old. (Editor’s note: This image holds the distinction of being selected as winner in the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition in the Earth and Space category.)“

Free Download: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince"

Free Download:
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince"
by Kirstie Pursey

“‘The Little Prince’, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is a children’s story with some very profound meanings and some quotes that will really make you think. I have to admit that I never read the ‘Little Prince’ as a child. I think I wouldn’t have known what to make of it if I did. Even reading it as an adult I didn’t know what to make of it!

However, it is clear that “The Little Prince” touches on some very deep themes about the nature of life, love, friendship and more. The following Little Prince quotes show just how many philosophical themes are discussed in this small, but profound work.

The story tells of a pilot who crashes into the Sahara desert. He is attempting to fix his damaged plane when a little boy appears as if from nowhere and demands that he draws him a sheep. Thus begins a strange, enigmatic friendship that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. The Little Prince, it turns out, comes from a small asteroid where he is the only living being apart from a rather demanding rose bush. The Little Prince decides to leave his home and visit other planets to find knowledge. The story tells of these encounters with rulers of strange worlds and de Saint-Exupéry has opportunities to demonstrate some philosophical themes that will make readers think.

On earth, as well as meeting the pilot, The Little Price meets a Fox and Snake. The fox helps him to truly understand the rose and the snake offers him a way to return to his home planet. But his return journey comes at a high price. The book’s bittersweet ending is both thought-provoking and emotional. I would definitely recommend that you read “The Little Prince” if you haven’t already.

It is one of the most beautiful and profound children’s books there are. If you have older children, then you might like to read it with them as it can be a little overwhelming for them to read alone. In the meantime, here are some of the best and most thought-provoking Little Prince quotes:

• “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

• “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

• “All grown-ups were once children… but only a few of them remember it.”

• “Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”

• “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”

• “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”

• “It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom.”

• “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

• “I am who I am and I have the need to be.”

• “No one is ever satisfied where he is.”

• “One day, I watched the sun setting forty-four times……You know…when one is so terribly sad, one loves sunsets.”

• “People where you live, the little prince said, grow five thousand roses in one garden… Yet they don’t find what they’re looking for… And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose.”

• “But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise.”

• “What matters most are the simple pleasures so abundant that we can all enjoy them…Happiness doesn’t lie in the objects we gather around us. To find it, all we need to do is open our eyes.”

• “Where are the people?” resumed the Little Prince at last. “It’s a little lonely in the desert…” “It is lonely when you’re among people, too,” said the snake.”

• “What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the Little Prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…”

• “For me, you are only a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you have no need of me, either. For you, I’m only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, we’ll need each other. You’ll be the only boy in the world for me and I’ll be the only fox in the world for you.”

• “To forget a friend is sad. Not everyone has had a friend.”

• “Only the children know what they are looking for.”

• “Sometimes, there is no harm in putting off a piece of work until another day.”

• “I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words.”

• “Nevertheless he is the only one of them all who does not seem to me ridiculous. Perhaps that is because he is thinking of something else besides himself.”

• “The one thing I love in life is to sleep.”

• “The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.”

• “And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me.”

Closing thoughts: I hope you have enjoyed these ‘Little Prince’ quotes. Admittedly, they are sometimes difficult to fathom at first. However, like many things in life, the more you think about them, the more they begin to make sense. This is not an easy book to read and the bittersweet ending may leave you feeling a little heartbroken. However, the book offers so many insights into the human condition that it is well worth the time spent thinking about the philosophical ideas contained between the covers.”
Freely download “The Little Prince”, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, here:

"And In That Very Way..."

"A sad fact, of course, about adult life is that you see the very things you'll never adapt to coming toward you on the horizon. You see them as the problems they are, you worry like hell about them, you make provisions, take precautions, fashion adjustments; you tell yourself you'll have to change your way of doing things. Only you don't. You can't. Somehow it's already too late. And maybe it's even worse than that: maybe the thing you see coming from far away is not the real thing, the thing that scares you, but its aftermath. And what you've feared will happen has already taken place. This is similar in spirit to the realization that all the great new advances of medical science will have no benefit for us at all, thought we cheer them on, hope a vaccine might be ready in time, think things could still get better. Only it's too late there too. And in that very way our life gets over before we know it. We miss it. And like the poet said: The ways we miss our lives are life."
- Richard Ford

"When I hear somebody sigh, "Life is hard,"
I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what?"
- Sydney Harris

"I'd Still Swim..."

"If I were dropped out of a plane into the ocean and told
the nearest land was a thousand miles away, I'd still swim.
And I'd despise the one who gave up."
- Abraham Maslow

"The Story Of Man"

“The sands of time blew into a storm of images... images in sequence to tell the truth! Glorious legends of revolutionaries, bound only by a desire to be true to themselves, and to hope! Parables of colliding worlds, of forbidden love, of enemies healing the wounds of circumstance! Projected myth of persecution through greed and selfishness... and the will to survive! The Will to survive! And to survive in the face of those who claim credit for your very existence! We survive not as pawns, but as agents of hope. Sometimes misunderstood, but always true to our story. The story of Man."
- Scott Morse
Vangelis, "Alpha"
This song always suggested the image of our relentless, idealized, noble, glorious March of Mankind through the ages. Despite it all, despite ourselves, we survive and march onward towards our unknown destiny.

Still, some wonder about our true nature as a species, as the Apex Predator of this planet, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did when he asked,“What can we know? What are we all? Poor silly half-brained things peering out at the infinite, with the aspirations of angels and the instincts of beasts.”
Indeed, Angelic aspirations regardless, the historical record suggests a less benevolent but far more accurate and truthful view of the instincts of beasts within Humanity...
Steve Cutts, "MAN"
What a chimera then is man, what a novelty, what a monster, what chaos, what a subject of contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, yet an imbecile earthworm; depository of truth, yet a sewer of uncertainty and error; pride and refuse of the universe. Who shall resolve this tangle?”
- Blaise Pascal

"Pride and refuse," indeed...

“The Individual vs. The Illusion Of Consensus Reality”

“The Individual vs. The Illusion Of Consensus Reality”
by Jon Rappoport

“This is such a supercharged subject, I could start from a dozen places. But let’s begin here: the individual is unique, because he is he. He is unique because he has his own ideas, because he has his own desires, because he has his own power. That power belongs to no one else. In particular, it doesn’t belong to the State. The State will try, will always try to suggest that it is granting power to the individual, but this is a lie. It’s an illusion broadcast with ill-intent. While everyone else is trying to manufacture connections to the group, under the banner of a false sense of community, the individual is going in the opposite direction.

Philip K Dick: “Insanity - to have to construct a picture of one’s life, by making inquiries of others.”

Consensus reality is the reality of sacrifice. It is coagulating energy, form, content, substance that takes on amorphous shapes studded with slots into which people can fit themselves.

The independent individual thinks what he wants to think. Over time, he keeps graduating into new, more nearly unique levels of what he wants to think. He rises above the group. He rises to his own thoughts.

There is no subject and no substance which is not infiltrated by consensus reality. Wherever you look, you will encounter it. The group is the basis of consensus reality, and the group pact extends everywhere. The group fears a sector where only individual thought can tread. That would be dangerous to the illusion. “Well, we’ve got things well in hand in most places, but over there and over here we’re not in charge. A different kind of reality pervades.” No, that doesn’t work for the group. The exceptions would blow a hole in the rule.

“Stay away from the corner of Lexington Avenue and 34th Street. Something too weird is going on there. We come in and try to inject consensus on that spot and it doesn’t work. Our “sharing” energy bounces off that corner. We may have to call in the troops to surround the place and cordon it off.” Alert! Alert! Consensus reality is breaking down in Sector 328-A! Locate the problem! This is an emergency! Bring in the news team to shore up the illusion! Turn on the hypnosis machines! Group consensus is fraying and fragmenting in Area 768-B! Call the professors and pundits! Discredit the individual! Call him a monster! Do something fast!

Consensus reality is an illusion in the sense that you can see it and I can see it, but we didn’t sign up for it. That’s the catch. Take any area of life, and I mean any, and that’s the case. Wherever there is tight consensus, perception ensues. That’s the whole point. “We, the group, aren’t fooling around. When we sign a pact among ourselves, we intend everybody to see what we decide is there to see.”

So you, the individual, can opt out. That doesn’t necessarily mean the consensus disappears; you can still see it, but you see it without accepting it. You can see the oasis in the desert, which is a mirage, but because you have your own bottle of water, you don’t have to run toward the mirage and fall down on your knees and try to drink from the pool.

Philip K. Dick: “Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… increasingly, we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated electronic mechanisms… And this is an astounding power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”

The strong and free individual evolves. He doesn’t stay the same. He doesn’t know everything worth knowing today. He knows enough, but not everything. He continues to emerge with new ideas, new energy, new invention. He becomes larger. He gains more power.

When the illusion of consensus reality attains a level beyond mere slogan, it enters the realm of systems. This is its most convincing format. A system appears to be watertight. Each one of its parts has relations with the whole. This is interesting, because that mirrors what a group is. Each member is a part that connects to the whole. Consensus as a system is like a game of chess that plays the same moves over and over. Game one is the same as game two, three, four… That’s where its illusion of power comes from.

The individual, though, doesn’t proceed according to systems. He isn’t moving from one closed context to another. That’s the group. The individual may retain the same general principles over time, but what he does and thinks strikes out into new territories. Because he creates. There is no individual without creating.

Consensus is the coin of the realm. It is forced from the top, and it is signed up for at the bottom. One hand washes the other. Societies may begin through consensus, but if they have any courage, they shift focus to the job of pulling away coercive restraints on the individual. Regardless, the individual asserts his freedom. It is his to begin with, not the group’s. No one gives it to him.

American society is moving rapidly to an inverse, an upside down structure, in which freedom is looked upon as a privilege grudgingly accorded in the absence of a reason to take it away. The prevalent official attitude is: consensus must be strengthened. It must dominate the landscape.

Through vast experience, the free individual knows that consensus has no theoretical limits. Group-perceptions about the way things are can give birth to the most universally “proven objective truths.” In his explorations, the individual may even find that a demonstrated law of nature is nothing more than a consensus. And, therefore, an illusion.

The group has conception of Normal. Normal is like a message passed around, from hand to hand, and when you look at it closely, for content, it dissolves. There was really nothing there. This is similar to what happens when physicists probe further and further into matter, looking for smaller and smaller particles, and come up with an enormous amount of empty space.

The group consensus is the illusion. Finally, there is mindless hive-action covering a vacuum. This is also what occasionally happens to people who have hidebound political ideologies. The people on the Left move further and further to the Left, and the people on the Right move further and further to the Right. Finally, they are both so distant from government they meet and stare at each other in shock. At that point, they are just individuals.

From my unfinished manuscript, "The Magician Awakes": “You keep saying it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you say it out loud and sometimes it’s just a very strong thought that could cut through a melon. You repeat it over and over - ”it doesn’t matter.” You’re sitting there with the most powerful thing in the universe, your imagination, and yet it doesn’t matter. New worlds are waiting for you. But you don’t pull the trigger.

“You go to meetings. What are these meetings? Who’s there? What do you talk about, the end of the world? Your problems? The conversations seem to be endless…”

“But society runs on groups! It must have groups!” And what? The individual must give in and join and belong? That’s the conclusion? I’m afraid not. Consensus reality is a cartoon that is trying to become as real as steel. What deconstructs the steel and exposes the cartoon? There is only one thing that can do that. Nothing and no one else is going to do that. The individual does it."

The Daily "Near You?"

Peoria, Arizona, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Crazy Prices At Target! What's Coming? - What's Next?"

Full screen recommended.
Adventures with Danno, 4/9/22:
"Crazy Prices At Target! What's Coming? - What's Next?"
"In today's vlog we are at Target and are noticing massive price increases! We are here to check out skyrocketing prices, and a lot of empty shelves! It's getting rough out here as stores seem to be struggling with getting products!"

"The Point..."

“You do not really understand something 
unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”
-  Albert Einstein
Full screen recommended.
Moody Blues, "Don't You Feel Small"
"See the world, ask what it's for. 
Understanding, nothing more..."

"The Demographics of Financial Doom"

"The Demographics of Financial Doom"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"The saying "demographics is destiny" encapsulates the reality that demographics – rising or falling trends of births and deaths – energize or constrain economies and societies regardless of other conditions. Demographics are long-term trends, but the trends can change relatively rapidly while policies remain fixed in the distant past. This disconnect between demographic reality and policies has momentous future consequences. An appropriate analogy is the meteor wiping out the dinosaurs; in the case of demographics, this equates to the complete financial collapse of the retirement and healthcare systems.

Extrapolating the high birth rates and falling death rates of the 1960s led to predictions of global famine. As death rates declined and women's educational and economics prospects brightened, birth rates fell, a trend that now encompasses most of the world.

As a result of the Green Revolution (hybrid seeds and hydrocarbon-based fertilizers), the Earth supports more than twice as many humans as were alive in the 1960s (3.5 billion then, 7.9 billion now). Now the problem is a shrinking working-age population that will be unable to support the financial and healthcare promises made to the retired generations.

Where Are the Babies? Birth rates in developed nations have fallen below replacement rates, which means populations are shrinking and populations are aging rapidly, i.e. the average age of the populace is rising. I remember reading similar research in the mid-1970s that identified a strong correlation between the relative size of the cohort of young males and the likelihood of war. If the cohort was above a specific percentage of the total population, war was likely. One example was Germany in the 1930, which had a large cohort of young males under the age of 25.

This may partially explain the increasing reliance on economic war (sanctions) and cyberwarfare – nations no longer have large enough cohorts of young males to field armies where high casualties are a reality. In broad brush, several trends are visible in many nations and cultures.

The Economics of Demography: One is that having children has gone from being an economic necessity or benefit to a tremendous financial liability in the developed world. A Danish friend once commented that only wealthy families could afford to have three children now in Northern European countries. The same can be said of the U.S. and many other countries, once we consider the higher demands now placed on parents.

Where in the good old days of previous generations, parents were deemed adequate if they provided a roof over the kids' heads, basic meals and clothing. Education was left up to the public schools, and public college was low-cost, should the child want to continue their education. (The University of Hawaii tuition was $89 and student fees were $27, for a grand total of $117 per semester from 1971 to 1975, $780 in today's dollars. I was able to support myself, pay all my university expenses and carry a full class load on a part-time job – in one of the two most expensive cities in the nation, Honolulu.)

In a fully globalized "winner take most" economy, parents with aspirations for a top 20% career and lifestyle for their children have a much more demanding burden. Parents seeking to give their children a leg up must provide costly enrichment lessons and juggle complicated schedules of after-school classes. Prestigious universities now expect more than mere academic excellence; applicants must show evidence of leadership, civic engagement, etc., and even public universities are outrageously expensive.

The Oldsters: Another trend is the cultural bias of favoring the elderly in terms of government support. As workers increasingly lived long enough to actually retire, social and political values supported government funded pensions and healthcare for retirees. In the high birth rates 1940, 50s and 60s, governments greatly increased benefits for the elderly/retired, as everyone assumed there would always be 4 or 5 workers for every retiree. Relatively few people lived to age 80 or older.

The steady decline in birth rates and the steady increase in longevity have dropped that ratio to less than 2 workers for every retiree. In the US, there are 127 million full time workers and 69 million Social Security beneficiaries (including disabled). That is less than 2 full time workers for every beneficiary. In a recession, Boomers will continue retiring en masse while the workforce will shrink. A ratio of 1.5 workers to every beneficiary isn't that far away. Is there any doubt this ratio is unsustainable financially? No.

Double-Whammy: These two trends are a double-whammy on those young adults having children: the costs of raising kids is much higher, the expectations are much higher while the government support is heavily weighted to the elderly populace, which is exploding as people now live into their 80s and 90s. (My Mom is 93, my Mom-in-law who we care for here at home is 91, our neighbor's Mom is 99, and so on.)

We have elderly friends who retired from federal government jobs at age 55 after 30 years of service and have collected 40 years of retirement. Is this financially sustainable? No. The actuarial foundations of Social Security and Medicare were based on 4 or 5 workers per beneficiary and average lifespans around 70. Retirees were expected to collect benefits for 5 to 7 years, not 25 to 30 years.

These systems are fundamentally unsustainable at current retirement ages (55 for many government workers, 62 for "early retirement" Social Security and 67 for full benefits and Medicare at 65), current longevity trends and less than 2 workers per retiree.

The Only Way Out: The only way to reverse these demographic trends would be for government support for retirees taking a back seat to government support of children and young parents, greatly reducing the financial burden of having children. The only way an economy can support a massive population of elderly is if there are enough young workers entering the workforce to keep the society and economy functioning.

Forward-looking populations would realize supporting parents and children is the only way to support future retirees. But humans aren't very forward-looking; we want all the good stuff now. So the elderly support politicians who promise their benefits are sacrosanct and untouchable – except to increase them.

Almost all elderly people vote while a much lower percentage of young people vote. So the government continues supporting the elderly even as the population of elderly explodes and the means to provide this support are in free-fall. Retirement ages have barely budged, increasing a mere two years in 40 years from 65 to 67, while lifespans have greatly advanced and the worker-retiree ratio has collapsed.

Open-ended healthcare expenses are an invitation for profiteering, fraud and unnecessary or even harmful medications and procedures. By some estimates, 40% of the $1.5 trillion dollars spent on Medicare and Medicaid annually is paper-shuffling, fraud and needless medications and procedures.

Something’s Gotta Give: A third trend is female workers wanting a fulfilling career and children, too. With childcare costing $25,000 or more annually, one parent may essentially be working just to pay the childcare costs for two children.

A fourth trend is relying on high birth rate immigrants to substitute for native-born workers is no longer viable, as birth rates have plummeted in nations that provide immigrants.

As the saying has it, something's gotta give. Doing nothing will lead to the collapse of the programs benefiting the elderly while the birth rate continues declining. All these values and programs assumed high birth rates, high worker-retiree ratios and modest costs for raising children were forever. They weren't. Now we need a new set of values that reduce or eliminate the financial burdens on parents raising children. It would be nice if we could afford to pay for everything we want but printing money to do so just collapses the entire system.

Personally, I would raise all retirement ages to match the rise in lifespans, limit Social Security benefits to those with no other pension or retirement income, limit publicly funded extraordinary healthcare measures for people over the average lifespan, tax revenues rather than labor, and pay all childcare and after-school programs expenses currently paid by parents, plus a modest sum per child that can only be spent on after-school enrichment classes and programs. That seems common-sense to me, but I'm open to other permutations of hard choices.

Hard choices lead to better outcomes than collapse, but few have any stomach for hard choices. Politicians who make hard choices that require sacrifices of powerful lobbies and voting blocks lose elections. The fantasy that we can "print our way out of any problem" is strong because it's so convenient and apparently so successful - at first. Whether we admit it or not, collapse is the default "solution." That destiny has already been written by demographics."
"Demographic Doom:
Why the World is Falling Apart"

"To Have and Have Not"; "Global Food Crisis"

"To Have and Have Not"
Global food shortages are about to get real.
by Joel Bowman

Buenos Aires, Argentina -  "Month-long protests... food shortages... rolling blackouts... and a 700 basis point rate hike. That’s what happens when your government goes broke, inflation gets out of hand and the local currency begins to spontaneously combust in consumers’ pockets. Just ask the good people of Sri Lanka. After a month of practically non-stop protests and street demonstrations, and facing severe shortages - nay, outages - of everything from food, fuel, power... even medicine, the government stepped in on Friday and jacked up its key lending rate by 7%. But with “official” inflation already running close to 19%, and supply chains tightening around the world, one gets the feeling the toothpaste is already out of the tube for the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

In fact, many countries across Europe and Asia are already feeling the pinch of too much paper money chasing too few (and too unreliable) real world goods. And we’re not just talking Birkin bags and iGagets here (although, presumably, there’s a backlog there, too...) but everyday consumables people need to actually... you know... live.

Why does this matter, apart from the obvious and harrowing abyss of the alternative? As witnessed during the last year of the great covid panic (remember covid?) honest, hard-working citizens are generally ok with their Amazon deliveries being delayed a few days. They can even “suck it up” when their preferred lunch item is temporarily unavailable at their favorite restaurant... or when their plane is delayed because of pilot and/or fuel shortages.

But when staple grains like wheat and corn become “insecure,” and bellies go empty... well, that’s when mobs take to the street with pitchforks and heads of state begin fueling up the chopper for emergency Helivac plans.

So, where are we with all that, food prices and such? Here’s NPR: "The Food and Agriculture Organization announced on Friday that its FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a "basket of commonly-traded food commodities," averaged 159.3 points in March. That's up 12.6% from February, which already saw the highest level since the organization began tracking in 1990. It's also 33.6% higher than it was last March."

BPR Investment Director, Tom Dyson, sent around this rather unpleasant chart yesterday afternoon...
Hmm…Transitory inflation... two weeks to flatten the curve... pandemic of the unvaccinated... Putin’s Price Hike...Look where listening to these people has gotten us so far. What’s that definition of insanity again? Something about doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?

And on that note, here’s word from our resident macro analyst, Dan Denning, checking in from the High Plains of Laramie, Wyoming... "Food lockdowns? I have to admit, I didn’t see it coming so soon. Granted, we’re talking about lockdowns and curfews in Peru, where rising fuel, food, and fertilizer prices led to street protests, which led to lockdowns and curfews.

This month Lima. Next month, Los Angeles? It may be early to start expecting food lockdowns (and riots) in America. It starts with empty (or emptier) shelves. Fewer choices. Higher prices. And then? And then the public finds out that cheap energy is a critical component to cheap, digestible calories. Take away one, and you take away the other. This is not a supply chain issue. And it’s not Putin’s food riots. What is it? It’s inflation. And as history shows, when high prices start to lead to empty stomachs, people with nothing left to lose start to take matters into their own hands. Keep this in mind in Shanghai, too.

China’s Communist Party has locked down the city of 25 million because of 20 thousand new positive Covid cases per day earlier this week. On Twitter, you’ll find stories of people opening as many food delivery apps as they can in the morning, hoping to get something delivered by the end of the day (with no luck, in some cases).

If you were the sort of person who was inclined to conspiracy theories, you might begin to wonder if mass starvation was part of the population control playbook. First plague. Then war. Then famine. Strictly by the Book.

Soaring food prices, their effect on social stability and civil society, and Chinese ‘zero covid’ policy in Shanghai are the stories NOT making the front page this week. That’s why I led with them from my desk in Laramie. Misdirection is when a good magician draws your attention to something unimportant so that you miss the important thing (the trick). Keep your eyes open...

Looking at the tax-and-spend bonanza in DC... and judging by what’s already coming down the pike in other countries around the world... from Colombo to Shanghai to Lima and beyond... what you’re seeing at your local grocery store and gas pump may only be the beginning."
Related, highly recommended:
 David Friedberg, "Global Food Crisis"

"How It Really Is"


Too little, far too late...

“Life, Explained To You”

“Life, Explained To You”
Author Unknown

“On the first day God created the dog. God said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a life span of twenty years.” The dog said, “That’s too long to be barking. Give me ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten.” So God agreed. 

On the second day God created the monkey. God said, “Entertain people, do monkey tricks and make them laugh. I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.” The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for twenty years? I don’t think so. Dog gave you back ten, so that’s what I’ll do too, okay?” And God agreed. 

On the third day God created the cow. “You must go to the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves, and give milk to support the farmer. I will give you a life span of sixty years.” The cow said, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. Let me have twenty and I’ll give back the other forty.” And God agreed again. 

On the fourth day God created man. God said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. I’ll give you twenty years.” Man said, “What? Only twenty years? Tell you what, I’ll take my twenty, and the forty the cow gave back, and the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back, that makes eighty, okay?” “Okay,” said God, “You’ve got a deal.” 

So that is why the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play, and enjoy ourselves; the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family; the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren; and the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.”
“Life has now been explained to you.”

"We're All Sinking..."

"We're all sinking in the same boat here. We're all bored and desperate and waiting for something to happen. Waiting for life to get better. Waiting for things to change. Waiting for that one person to finally notice us. We're all waiting. But we also need to realize that we all have the power to make those changes for ourselves."
- Susane Colasanti

"The Odds Are Stacked Against Us..."

"Our world is not safe. It is a toxic swamp populated by predators and parasites. The odds are stacked against us from the moment of conception. We survive only because we fight the elements, hunger, disease, each other. And, although civilization promises us safe harbor, that promise is a fairy tale. Only the storm is real. It comes for each of us. And we cannot win. We can only choose how we will suffer our defeat. We can meekly take our beatings, and die like lemmings, finding solace in the belief that we shall one day inherit the earth. Or, we can plunge into the chaos with eyes wide open, taking comfort instead from the bruises, scars, and broken bones which prove that we fought to live and die as gods."
 - J.K. Franko, "Life for Life

"The worst part is wondering how you'll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you'll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows. And maybe it's treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn't enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I've never been able to kill myself."
- Louis-Ferdinand Celineo

Friday, April 8, 2022

"Terrible News...SHTF For The Middle Class, Prepare For Economic Collapse"

Ron Yates, PM 4/8/22:
"Terrible News...SHTF For The Middle Class, 
Prepare For Economic Collapse"
"Will SSI get a fourth stimulus check? Is there a release date on the 4th stimulus check update today 2022? Today I’ve got much more to cover in this video, like: the $200 monthly increase in social security raise, SSI, SSDI, VA, survivor benefit, and railroad benefit. I’ll be updating you on where we stand today on the Social Security $200 per month boost for SSI raise, SSDI, and really good news regarding COLA today in this video! We will discuss mortgage forbearance, relief and mortgage forgiveness. $2500 student financial aid."

"The Rate Hike That Will Crash the System"

"The Rate Hike That Will Crash the System"
by Brian Maher

"Mr. James Bullard presides over the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He fears the inflationary flames presently fanning. He wants to get good water on them: “The current policy rate is too low by about 300 basis points," he argues. That is, the policy rate should approach 3.50% - rather than today’s 0.50%. Can the Federal Reserve attain this 3.50% target without flooding Wall Street… and Main Street? Artificially low interest rates keep both dry as can be.

Here we yield a hint: The Federal Reserve cannot attain this 3.50% target without flooding Wall Street and Main Street. At what point must the Federal Reserve kink the hoses and dispatch the lifeboats? Please select your answer:

A): 1%
B): 2%
C): 2.50%
D): 2.75%

Have you taken your guess? The answer - revealed shortly - hides within the “shadows.” Today we drive a penetrating light through the murk… and illuminate the answer. First the fundamental facts, the skeleton facts…

Steering Blind: The federal funds rate is the interest rate the Federal Reserve influences directly. It presently ranges between 0.25% and 0.50%. Traditional models calculate this rate’s gravitational exertions upon economic conditions… whether it pushes… or pulls. Lower rates are believed to push. But how can they give additional push at the zero boundary? They cannot.

The Federal Reserve roughhoused rates down to zero after the Great Financial Crisis — and again during the plague year. In both instances the Federal Reserve was hot for more stimulus than zero rates could yield. They found their answer in quantitative easing. In 2020 the Federal Reserve undertook quantitative easing in quantities truly astounding, quantities that shamed all previous easings. Economists lacked the models to discern quantitative easing’s gravitational effects. Thus the economics world slipped into a sort of netherworld, an unmapped wilderness where all familiar reference points fell away.

Analyst Michael Lebowitz in summary: "The Fed conducts monetary policy via manipulating the fed funds rate. In 2008, when the rate hit zero, the Fed wanted to do more. Unwilling to lower rates below zero, they introduced quantitative easing, or QE. QE effectively lowers rates by buying Treasury and mortgage securities. The reduction of supply leads to higher prices and, therefore, lower interest rates and yields.

Before 2008 we could measure how aggressive monetary policy was by comparing fed funds to measures of economic growth… Since the birth of QE, the [models] do not paint a complete picture of monetary policy. To do that, we must factor in QE and the effect it has on interest rates." What was quantitative easing’s effect on interest rates?

The Answer Is in the Shadows: University of Chicago Booth economists Jing Cynthia Wu and Fan Dora Xia were out for answers - to penetrate the blackness at the zero bound… and to get light in. Here is the question they raised: Can we develop an interest rate model that accounts for quantitative easing’s loosening effects? They furled their sleeves, chained themselves to their desks and burned barrels of midnight’s oil… hunting answers.

In 2014 they barreled through the zero boundary and its inky mysteries. They illuminated the “shadow rate.” As one observer explains the shadow rate: "When the federal funds rate hovers near zero, many economic models stop working. Researchers developed a “shadow rate” that can stand in for the fed funds rate, drop into negative territory and make those models functional again."

The Bills Will Soon Come Due: “The pace of QE or QT can be combined with the headline federal funds rate to calculate a shadow federal funds rate,” explains Zero Hedge, adding: "So combining the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet from sub-$4 trillion at end 2018 to almost $9 trillion was the equivalent of the federal funds rate falling to minus 5%." That is, the headline rate had been zero or near zero. Yet mix in the $5 trillion of quantitative easing. Now sink into the shadows… and you have a shadow rate of negative 5%.

Now come home, to the present day. The Federal Reserve plans to drain its balance sheet from the present $9 trillion to $6 trillion. If quantitative easing dragged the shadow rate down - to negative 5% -  how high will quantitative tightening push the shadow rate? The Federal Reserve has vastly reduced its quantitative easing. Meantime, it has elevated the federal funds rate by 0.25%.

Into the Shadows: Now come into the shadows. The March rate increase may be listed officially at 0.25%. Yet the shadow rate suggests a much greater tightening. SocGen “quant” Solomon Tadesse calculates the 0.25% rate increase… was in fact a 2.50% rate increase.

Thus the shadow rate has leapt from negative 5% to negative 2.5%. Zero Hedge, by way of emphasis: "But now that the Fed has reversed, ending QE combined with just one 0.25% hike in the headline federal funds rate, means the shadow FFR has already jumped from minus 5% to minus 2.5% - a 250-basis-point hike."

The Federal Reserve is likely preparing a 0.50% rate increase in May. It likewise plans aggressive drainings of its balance sheet. Thus the shadow rate would jump into light, into positive space. The Federal Reserve evidently seeks a 3.5% federal funds rate. Yet when the shadow rate is considered, 3.5% is not far distant. SocGen’s crackerjacks believe the Federal Reserve will be forced to abandon its target long before it plans.

And so we return to our earlier question: At what federal funds rate must the Federal Reserve quit the tightening - before it lays waste to Wall Street and Main Street alike? Again, your choices are:

A): 1%
B): 2%
C): 2.50%
D): 2.75%

Drumroll…Here is your answer: A. The Federal Reserve will be forced into retreat once the headline federal funds rate scales 1%.

Zero Hedge: "[This] latest analysis for this cycle puts the peak of the fed funds at just below 1.0%, or less than three more rate hikes before the Fed is forced to reverse!" Affirms SocGen’s Albert Edwards: "The actual federal funds rate will struggle to get to 1% before the Fed needs to halt the tightening cycle. That is shocking."

We must agree. It is shocking. Yet it is not surprising. It merely indicates the exquisite fragility of a financial system constructed of gossamer. How have we arrived at this sad, sad pass? The aforesaid Mr. Michael Lebowitz: "Without extremely low interest rates to make the new and existing debt affordable, economic growth would disappear, and financial defaults would be plentiful. The Fed must believe they must help Congress worsen the nation’s fiscal imbalances versus dealing with the problem in a sustainable manner. Expediency at tomorrow’s cost, once again, seems to be winning the day… Hiding such actions under the guise of appropriate monetary policy seems to be their modus operandi."

Just so. Expediency at tomorrow’s cost won yesterday. It wins today. And we wager our last dollar bill that expediency will win tomorrow…Expediency at tomorrow’s expense… forever and ever… world without end…Until it does end."

"Two Cautionary Tales Rolled Into One"

"Two Cautionary Tales Rolled Into One"
by Addison Wiggin

“If there is anything unique about the human animal, it is that it has the ability to grow knowledge at an accelerating rate while being chronically incapable of learning from experience.”
- John Gray

"You may be aware, we try to work Merriam Webster’s “Word of The Day” (WOD) into each of our missives. Today’s WOD was nearly prophetic. It’s true. We’ve taken on a couple of mettlesome topics this week. The dry powder-keg at the Federal Reserve. Along with Chrisopher Leonard, we observed the Fed can’t “normalize” rates because it will “nuke the economy”.

We also observed, with Scott Horton, that just because we understand Vladimir Putin’s motives for invading doesn’t mean we agree with them or think he and his cronies are right. During our discussion, Scott quotes a comedian to make the point we all know is true on some level. Mr. Horton: The great comic, Dave Smith, my good friend, has this bit where he talked about the origins of September 11th. He goes, "And then people would say, 'Come on, man, we've been bombing them for 10 years before September 11.' And then people say, 'What? Well, that doesn't sound like us.'" And then he goes, "Yeah, well, but think hard about it. Bill Clinton was bombing Iraq from bases in Saudi from 10 years, wasn't he?" And people go, "Oh yeah, I guess actually that does kind of ring a bell, you know? Yeah. Maybe I wasn't putting it at the height of importance in my life, but it could have been important to somebody. I guess I could concede that, right?"

Mr. Horton proceeds to outline a litany of reasons the imperially ambitious Putin would want to counter Western aggression in a historical context, right here. That’s our first cautionary tale: be careful what you say if your curiosity runs counter to the woke mob.

To allay their concerns, we’ll discuss a more precise economic reason for the Russian invasion with commodities sage James West on Monday. It involves both the Russian “pullback” to the Donbas region and an estimated trillion+ cubic feet of natural gas somewhere underneath the Black Sea. Stay tuned. Today, however, we’re going to leave you with a cautionary tail from the Bank of Japan. Since we began the week trying to understand the inner workings of the Powell Fed, we have been summarily stocking financial journalists from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

This morning we found this headline: 'A $430 Billion Cautionary Tale Inside Japan’s Central Bank.' It’s worth a read because it foreshadows the nightmare situation the Fed is barreling headlong toward. “The world's boldest monetary policy experiment,” reads the subhead, “landed the Bank of Japan with a vast portfolio it just can’t quit.” You may recall we wrote a chapter on “turning Japanese” back in the early days. If not, you can find it in Financial Reckoning Day Fallout, here.

For me, the money quote in the lead of this Bloomberg piece is: "In most of the world, exchange-traded funds are simply tools that allow investors to track a certain set of stocks. In Japan, they’ve been saddled with everything from propping up the market and boosting inflation, to accelerating economic growth, improving corporate governance and even encouraging gender equality.

Following this multifaceted policy, very similar to the one Christopher Leonard laments with today’s Fed, the Bank of Japan have collected 80% of the country’s ETFs.”That’s far further than any other central bank in the world has gone in trying to prime its economy via equities purchases,” Bloomberg gasps, “The Bank of Japan has also outpaced peers with its $3.7 trillion in net bond purchases.”

And yet, one wonders, when they need to unload all those direct purchases, who will be the greater fool to buy them?"

"Follow your bliss,"

"Doomsday 'Preppers' Warn Of Hard Times Ahead As Preparedness Goes Mainstream"

Full screen recommended.
"Doomsday 'Preppers' Warn Of Hard Times Ahead 
As Preparedness Goes Mainstream"
by Epic Economist

"We’re at the very early stages of a global emergency that is going to trigger widespread food scarcity, food riots, and flash mobs – and all of that is happening sooner than you think. That’s what food scientist, prepper, and “Health Ranger” podcaster, Mike Adams, is trying to warn the public. His main advice: you need to get prepared while you still can because conditions are only going to get worse from now on. With fertilizer shortages collapsing agricultural production while skyrocketing fuel costs push shipping prices to soar, increasingly more people are waking up to the fact that supply chain problems are going to persist for a long time. Over the past twelve months, around 45 percent of Americans, or about 116 million people, said they spent money preparing for hard times or spent money stockpiling survival goods, according to

Preppers have been marginalized and discredited for decades, but now they’ve built their own market and they’re becoming significantly more popular on social media. “With food production issues, supply chain problems, a slow economic recovery from the health crisis, and the cascading effects of an overseas conflict, it seems rather clear that shortages, disruptions, and price hikes are here to stay,” Matt, the “magic prepper,” has emphasized, noting that the worsening situation in Ukraine has revived interest in preparedness as fears of a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack continue to rise. At this point, the elites are already spending tons of money to make sure they will be able to run away when a collapse hits. One Texas-based company has seen a massive spike in bunker sales since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Rising S sells every type of bunker you can imagine – from a $39,500 “mini bunker” to their $8.35 million “aristocrat” model that can hold up to 44 people. General Manager Gary Lynch says sales have “increased astronomically” over the past few days. During “normal times,” Lynch sells between two to six shelters a month. But these times are far from normal. On the very first day of the invasion, he said he sold five units at prices ranging from $70,000 to $240,000 because demand went up 1,000%.

Interest in bunkers isn’t a new or unexpected trend. Quite the opposite, according to a 2012 National Geographic survey, 62% of Americans thought the world would experience a major catastrophe in less than 20 years. Given that we had a global health crisis followed by a major conflict, we can say that forecast was accurate. An additional 40% believed that stocking up on supplies or building an underground shelter was a wiser investment than saving for retirement.

Economic protectionism is making a comeback, with many countries from Russia to Hungary to China, halting food exports and shrinking the global supply of grains. There’s no doubt this will result in the most extreme food shortages we’ve seen in our lifetime. According to Adams, “it will begin about August and continue until the end of the year. I think this is a red pill moment for the people of the world that they need to be more self-reliant. We need decentralization of food production. Food must be grown locally,” Adams defends. Unfortunately, only about 5% of Americans are truly prepared for what’s coming. But the opportunity to start is still here. “The more people prepare, the less they panic when shortages appear,” Adams said. The only question left is - when the collapse hits, will you be on the side of those who prepared, or will you be lost in the chaos?"

Gregory Mannarino, "Bank Of America Says: 'Prepare For Inflation Shock'. Also A Real Threat To The Petrodollar"

Gregory Mannarino, PM 4/8/22:
"Bank Of America Says: 'Prepare For Inflation Shock'. 
Also A Real Threat To The Petrodollar"

Musical Interlude: Josh Groban, "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)"; "Remember When It Rained"

Full screen recommended.
Josh Groban, "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)"
Full screen recommended.
Josh Groban, "Remember When It Rained"

Chet Raymo, “The Sound And Fury”

“The Sound And Fury”
by Chet Raymo

“Not so long ago, I mentioned here Himmler and Heydrich, two of Hitler's most terrible henchmen. A friend said to me: "If there's no afterlife, no heaven or hell, then those two diabolical creatures got away with it. Their fate was no different than that of any one of their victims, an innocent child perhaps." And, yes, if there is no God who dispenses final justice, then we are left with an aching feeling of irresolution, of virtue unrewarded, of vice unpunished. Heydrich was gunned down by partisan assassins, and Himmler committed suicide a few hours before his inevitable capture, both fates arguably less tragic than that of their victims. How much more satisfying to think that the two mass murderers will spend an eternity in hell, while their victims find bliss.

This may not be a logically consistent argument for the existence of God, but it is certainly compelling. My friend says: "If there's no afterlife, then it's all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Of course, this emotive argument for the existence of God is balanced by another argument against his existence – the problem of evil: How can a just and loving God allow the existence of a Himmler or Heydrich in the first place. Here the argument is not just emotional, but consists of a thorny contradiction.

It comes down, essentially, to head vs. heart - what we would like to be true with all of our heart, vs. what our head tells us is an unresolvable conundrum. So each of us decides: To follow our hearts and make the blind leap of faith, or to follow our heads and learn to live with the sound and the fury. For those of us who choose the second alternative, the relevant words are that distressing coda, "signifying nothing." Our task is one of signification, of finding a satisfying meaning this side of the grave.

For many of us, that means finding our place in the great cosmic unfolding, and of recognizing that our lives are not inconsequential, that by being here we jigger the trajectory of the universe in some way, no matter how small, and preferably for the good and just. Yes, we make a leap of faith too, I suppose - that love, justice, and creativity are virtues worth living for- but at least it is a leap of faith that is not into the unknown, does not embody logical contradiction, and is consistent with what we know to be true, or at least as true as we can make it.”

The Poet: James Broughton, "Having Come This Far"

"Having Come This Far"

"I've been through what my through was to be,
I did what I could and couldn't.
I was never sure how I would get there.
I nourished an ardor for thresholds,
for stepping stones and for ladders,
I discovered detour and ditch.
I swam in the high tides of greed,
I built sandcastles to house my dreams.
I survived the sunburns of love.

No longer do I hunt for targets.
I've climbed all the summits I need to,
and I've eaten my share of lotus.
Now I give praise and thanks
for what could not be avoided,
and for every foolhardy choice.
I cherish my wounds and their cures,
and the sweet enervations of bliss.

My book is an open life.
I wave goodbye to the absolutes,
and send my regards to infinity.
I'd rather be blithe than correct.
Until something transcendent turns up,
I splash in my poetry puddle,
and try to keep God amused."

- James Broughton