By Stephen Foley
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
The ailing US housing market passed a grim milestone in the first quarter of this year, posting a further deterioration that means the fall in house prices is now greater than that suffered during the Great Depression.
The brief recovery in prices in 2009, spurred by government aid to first-time buyers, has now been entirely snuffed out, and the average American home now costs 33 per cent less than it did at the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. The peak-to-trough fall in house prices in the 1930s Depression was 31 per cent – and prices took 19 years to recover after that downturn.
The latest Case-Shiller house price index was just one of a slew of disappointing economic data from the US yesterday, which suggested ebbing confidence in the recovery of the world's largest economy. The Chicago PMI manufacturing index showed a sharp slowdown in the pace of expansion in May, missing Wall Street forecasts and sending the index to its lowest since November 2009.
And in the latest Conference Board consumer confidence survey more people expressed uncertainty over their future economic prospects. The confidence index fell unexpectedly to 60.8 from a revised 66.0, when economists had expected it to rise to 67.0. Falling house prices and negative equity combined with high petrol and food prices and a still-weak jobs market to raise consumers' fears for the future.
Thomas Di Galoma, the managing director of government securities at Oppenheimer & Co, said: "Based on the weakness in housing prices, Chicago PMI and consumer confidence, it appears as though the economy could be headed for a double dip, especially as federal and state spending slows rapidly over the next six months."
Economists warned not to expect any immediate relief to the gloom from the housing market. Banks continue to demand high deposits from potential buyers and are pressing on with foreclosures against those who have fallen behind on mortgages, adding to the glut of unsold homes on the market.
Prices are back to their 2002 levels, according to the Case-Shiller National House Price Index out yesterday. "The national index fell 4.2 per cent over the first quarter alone, and is down 5.1 per cent compared to its year-ago level," David Blitzer, the chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, said. "Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight."
Publicado: 06-04-2011 03:43 PM
The Age of Obama #fail
June 3, 2011 by David Harsanyi
Recessions come and go. Typically we emerge with strong sustained growth. Not this time. Today we learned that employers added the fewest jobs in 8 months. Unemployment jumped back to 9.1 percent – and really, the level is 15.8 percent.
The housing market still stinks, as does other foundations of the economy. The answer from the Democrats has been bailout after bailout, antiquated economic schemes, huge expansion of regulation, calls for higher taxes, attacks on the profit motive, roadblocks to energy production, increasing moral hazard in markets, more crony capitalism, food stamps, dependency, massive new entitlement program, sharing of the prosperity but less new prosperity, the same wars (and more!), but no budget, no spending cuts and little economic hope.
Ian Murray at The Corner explains:
Today’s much weaker than expected employment numbers show that the president’s agenda of more regulation and increased spending has undoubtedly failed. However much money he throws at the problem, entrepreneurs are not going to start adding jobs to the economy while the burden of regulation is so high. Regulations cost the economy $1.75 trillion each year. It is regulation that is dragging us back to recession.
And via Business Insider, lays out the legacy of Obama’s Keynesian policies.
The Age of Obama
What exactly has this administration done right? What creative ideas have they offered? How many alternative realities (you know, ‘things could have been worse’?) do we have to accept? Fact is, while these condescending technocrats accuse their opponents of being nihilists, ideologues and radicals, they are the ones that refuse to deviate from dogma no matter how much evidence of failure confronts them.
OBAMA'S REAL UNEMPLOYMENT 17.9% AND GOING UP, UP, UP!!!!
Publicado: 06-04-2011 07:30 PM
Obama Can Not Think
Vanity | June 11, 2011 | Louis Foxwell
Our expensive educational system does not teach intelligence. Most publicly educated people in the US do not know what intelligence is. A majority believe it is innate, something people are born with. In fact, intelligence is a product of classical education.
One must be taught to think. Logical or critical thinking may be learned easily or with difficulty but it is a learned skill. Mathematics and classical philosophy teach thinking skills. Thinking is the antithesis of indoctrination. Teaching people how to think is categorically the opposite of teaching them what to think.
Obama has not learned how to think, only what to think. This is what makes him doctrinaire and ideological, he has mastered a limited set of ideas and principles that he applies universally in all circumstances. He has the same set of responses to every condition. He is unable to differentiate between a variety of situations and evaluate them individually. His is a one size fits all mind.
Obama's dogged insistence on applying one set of principles to every situation is viewed by a preponderance of people as intellectual rigor. For those who do not have a clue about the true nature of intelligence this makes perfect sense. It is not about thinking. It is about learning the correct response and applying it with all diligence and discipline. That is the fundamental discipline of socialism.
At its core socialism is a one size fits all political discipline. The answers have all been worked out. Learning them and applying them rigidly is the work of the true believer. Obama is, by any measure, a true believer, not an intellectual.
QUOTE OF THE CENTURY, MAYBE EVEN THE MILLENNIUM
Some people have the vocabulary to sum up things in a way you can understand them, like this quote from the Czech Republic. Someone over there has it figured out - we have a lot of work to do.
“The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."
My other personal concern is the evil entities behind the fool.
Publicado: 06-11-2011 09:11 AM
US Is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece
13 Jun 2011 By: Jeff Cox
CNBC.com Staff Writer
When adding in all of the money owed to cover future liabilities in entitlement programs the US is actually in worse financial shape than Greece and other debt-laden European countries...
Pimco’s Bill Gross told CNBC Monday.
Much of the public focus is on the nation’s public debt, which is $14.3 trillion. But that doesn’t include money guaranteed for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which comes to close to $50 trillion, according to government figures.
The government also is on the hook for other debts such as the programs related to the bailout of the financial system following the crisis of 2008 and 2009, government figures show.
Taken together, Gross puts the total at “nearly $100 trillion,” that while perhaps a bit on the high side, places the country in a highly unenviable fiscal pposition that he said won’t find a solution overnight.
“To think that we can reduce that within the space of a year or two is not a realistic assumption,” Gross said in a live interview. “That’s much more than Greece, that’s much more than almost any other developed country. We’ve got a problem and we have to get after it quickly.”
Gross spoke following a report that US banks were likely to scale back on their use of Treasurys as collateral against derivatives and other transactions. Bank heads say that move is likely to happen in August as Congress dithers over whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The move reflects increasing concern from the financial community over whether the US is capable of a political solution to its burgeoning debt and deficit problems.
“We’ve always wondered who will buy Treasurys” after the Federal Reserve purchases the last of its $600 billion to end the second leg of its quantitative easing program later this month, Gross said. “It’s certainly not Pimco and it’s probably not the bond funds of the world.”
Pimco, based in Newport Beach, Calif., manages more than $1.2 trillion in assets and runs the largest bond fund in the world.
Gross confirmed a report Friday that Pimco has marginally increased its Treasurys allotment—from 4 percent to 5 percent—but still has little interest in US debt and its low yields that are in place despite an ugly national balance sheet.
“Why wouldn’t an investor buy Canada with a better balance sheet or Australia with a better balance sheet with interest rates at 1 or 2 or 3 percent higher?” he said. “It simply doesn’t make any sense.”
Should the debt problem in Greece explode into a full-blown crisis—an International Monetary Fund bailout has prevented a full-scale meltdown so far—Gross predicted that German debt, not that of the US, would be the safe-haven of choice for global investors.
Publicado: 06-13-2011 07:18 PM
The Politics of Central Planning and How It Affects Obama’s Reelection Chances
Flopping Aces ^ | 06-13-11 | Warren Beatty
Economic planning refers to any directing or planning of economic activity by the state, in an attempt to achieve specific economic or social outcomes. An economy primarily based on central planning is a planned economy; in a planned economy the allocation of resources is determined by a comprehensive plan of production which specifies output requirements. My addendum - Note that nowhere in this definitioin is "communism" mentioned.
President Obama and his administration have had a difficult (at best) time with his economic policies, and those policy decisions will (if we do our job) have an effect upon his reelection prospects. So let's examine his policies and be knowledgeable so WEare ready to spread the word. As Lao-tzu (604 BC - 531 BC) said, "People are difficult to govern because they have too much knowledge."
Obama's focus on economic policies and programs fall roughly into these five categories:
Publicado: 06-13-2011 09:31 PM
Let's look at each of these policies individually.
Here is what President-elect Obama2 had to say on January 8, 2009. "I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years...." He continued, "...That's why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan won't just throw money at our problems - we'll invest in what works...." [emphasis mine]
Well, his economic plans have NOT worked. The "Misery Index"3 is high, economic growth4 (measureds by the GDP) is slow, GDP growth5 is very slow, unemployment6 is high, bankruptcy7 is high, entitlement spending8 continues to grow, productivity9 is declining, and the deficit10continues to grow (we'll see how projections beyond 2011 go).
So how did we get here? One policy that the Obama administration actively pursued was anti-trust11 enforcement since he and his advisors know what is best for corporate America and us. Here is another example of how the Obama administration pursues central planning12 through anti-trust prosecution. Obama's administration pursues corporations they don't want to be competitive, and leaves their choices alone. And here is a very short post on the wisdom13of the Obama administration.
Further, Obama's tax policies14 smack of central planning. Since corporations (and small businesses) do not pay taxes, but pass the increased costs on to the consumer in the form of higher prices and/or less personnel, tax policy can be quite a weapon. And here he says one thing15, then refutes it in the next sentence. What we have is essentially the resurgence of central planning16. How ironic it is that Obama, the champion of "change," is resorting to an age old economic doctrine which always originally draws popular support, always leads to a rise in the authoritarian state, and always ultimately fails. Here is an article17 about the NLRB and a drug company CEO. Now we have the NLRB telling a company where it can locate. We get a glimpse18 of what Obama meant when he told Joe the plumber that we must "spread the wealth around." Finally, we have Obama redistributing wealth19through his "green economy."
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, imposes intrusive federal control of the American health insurance and delivery system.20 This massive health care law, passed in March, 2010, contains over 2700 pages, and constitutes the largest expansion of government since the Great Society. Americans have voiced their strong opposition, but the Obama Administration is determined to force-feed us Obamacare. The Administration's vision of health care is based on the premise that the federal government can and must control the details of health care financing and delivery across the country. Obamacare also states that by 2012 doctors and hospitals are encouraged to legally join together to form groups covering at least 5,000 patients each that will be "accountable" for cost, quality and overall care.21 So much for the anti-trust laws cited above. Capitalism works better than central planning, and no amount of good intentions, propaganda or magical thinking will change that.22
Publicado: 06-13-2011 09:32 PM
THIS IS OUR PRESIDENT
Everyone of voting age should read these two books: Don't buy them, just get them from the library.
From Dreams of My Father: "I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites."
From Dreams of My Father: "I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race."
From Dreams of My Father: "There was something about her that made me wary, a little too sure of herself, maybe and white."
From Dreams of My Father: "It remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names."
From Dreams of My Father: "I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa , that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself: the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela."
And FINALLY .........
From Audacity of Hope:
"I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."
If you have never forwarded an e-mail, now is the time to do so!!!
How did we let someone with this mentality become President?
And will we survive until he's gone?
Publicado: 06-16-2011 12:41 PM
Obama’s the Target of Mexico Gunrunning Probe
by Roger Hedgecock
Did the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), an agency of President Obama’s Justice Department, operate a program that deliberately allowed some 3,500 guns bought in the U.S. to be “walked” across the Mexican border and into the waiting hands of the murderous Mexican drug cartels? At first, PresidentObama and Attorney General Eric Holder denied such a program existed.
Four ATF agents who worked in the program, called Operation Fast and Furious, however, answered yes this week in testimony before the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.).
Special Agent John Dodson testified that he was assigned to the Phoenix office of ATF and specifically to Group VII, the designation of the Fast and Furious team. There Dodson found that ATF agents had been following 40 individuals who were known “straw purchasers” of guns for the cartels from federal government-licensed gun shops in the U.S. Gun shop owners who called the ATF with concerns, to report suspicious buyers, were told to complete the sales.
In 2009, Obama, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Dianne Feinstein had all charged that the increasing violence in Mexico was caused by guns purchased too easily in the U.S. They called on Congress to act to tighten gun control laws.
Obama specifically claimed 90% of the weapons in the cartels’ hands were purchased in the U.S.—sheer nonsense. Of the 100,000 or so guns recovered by the Mexicans at crime scenes at the time, 18,000 were found to be manufactured, sold or imported from the U.S. Of those, 7,900 came from federally licensed gun shops. Of those, up to 3,500 came from Operation Fast and Furious.
Was Operation Fast and Furious an Obama program to create a self-fulfilling prophecy and accomplish a gun control objective? Again the agents’ testimony was clear.
Over 10 months in 2009 and 2010, Dodson testified that on an almost daily basis, he was ordered to take notes, record conversations, videotape gun purchases, make reports and track the movements of these straw buyers but nothing more.
With everyone knowing the guns were headed for Mexico and the drug cartels, Dodson and his fellow agents were ordered to not stop or arrest the suspects or impede the flow of weapons.
When the straw buyers handed the guns off to third parties, ATF agents were told to follow the straw buyers, not the third parties who headed for the border with the guns. When the agents objected, they were told to “get with the program” and that “higher-ups” including “senior ATF officials” had sanctioned the operation.
In a Jan. 25, 2011, Phoenix press conference, Special Agent in Charge William Newell was asked whether ATF agents were ever ordered to allow guns to “walk” into Mexico. He answered, “Hell no!”
Leaked e-mail traffic from spring 2010 documents show that ATF management from Acting Director Kenneth Melson on down were personally briefed in Phoenix on Operation Fast and Furious by Newell.
Publicado: 06-17-2011 01:41 PM
One of these e-mails describes Melson’s intense interest in the program, including getting the IP address for the hidden cameras located in a gun shop in Arizona so he could watch the straw buyer buy guns on a screen in his Washington, D.C., office.
Melson later said Fast and Furious was really a sting operation “gone wrong.” The agents had been ordered not to stop the little fish (the straw buyers) so that the guns could be traced to the big fish (the cartel bosses).
This lame explanation ignored the fact that ATF agents were ordered to not follow the guns and that ATF had no jurisdiction to take down anyone in Mexico. In fact, no “sting” ever occurred, no arrests of cartel bosses ever happened. ATF made no effort to trace the guns after they crossed the border.
ATF agents feared that one day one of these guns would show up at a crime scene. That day came one night last December when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, armed with a bean bag gun, was killed by an AK-47 armed cartel bandito in the Arizona desert. The serial numbers on two AK-47s found at the site of the shooting identified them as coming from one of the straw purchases that the ATF agents had been tracking but were ordered not to stop.
The Mexican government has linked 150 of its police or military casualties to Fast and Furious guns. As Issa pointed out, referring to a State Department report, in the last year 111 Americans were killed in Mexico—victims of the drug war.
After bloggers started talking about what they called Project Gunwalker, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson began a series of reports that blew the story wide open. On-air interviews with the ATF agents made Gunwalker a big story on both sides of the border.
At this point, Obama said neither he nor Holder had authorized the program, but admitted “mistakes had been made” and vowed to “hold the responsible parties accountable.” Holder ordered an internal investigation.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa) repeatedly sent letters to Holder demanding information. In a February 4, 2011, response letter to Grassley, Justice Department Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ron Weich described as “false” Grassley’s assertion that ATF had knowingly allowed guns to be purchased and walked into Mexico.
Weich, a former aide to Sen. Harry Reid, told Grassley that “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally, and prevent their transportation to Mexico.” Challenged on the truth of this statement, the Justice Department says that because the straw buyers themselves did not cross the border but handed the weapons off to third parties, the statement was true. Huh?
In 2009-’10, the ATF agents were ordered to not arrest the “little fish.” Following revelations of the Gunwalker program, the Justice Department indicted 20 of the straw buyers who were known to ATF before Fast and Furious began. Then Justice stonewalled answering any more letters seeking information on the program from Issa or from Grassley and refused to respond to Issa’s committee subpoenas on the grounds that there was an ongoing criminal prosecution!
Rahm Emanuel, when he was Obama’s chief of staff, famously said that no crisis should ever go to waste if it could advance the agenda. Did Obama go Rahm one better, advancing the gun-control agenda by manufacturing a crisis caused by gunrunning into Mexico, where one of the gunrunners was the U.S. government?
Members of the Mexican Congress think the answer is yes and have opened their own investigation. From the Mexican standpoint, Operation Fast and Furious was an act of war on Mexico.
For Americans of a certain age, the next question is, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”
Publicado: 06-17-2011 01:42 PM