Saturday, June 30, 2007

Is The WOT A Hoax?

Today, Britain is at Def Con one, or color code purple, or whatever scheme they use there to indicate a "terror" threat at its highest. For the second day in a row, seemingly extraordinarily incompetent terrorists have bombed a public facility. Yesterday they took out their anger with minimum effectiveness in London, and today it was in Glasgow, Scotland, an erstwhile ship building capital on the west coast. In the latest attack launched at the Glasgow airport, an SUV filled with fuel was deliberately crashed into a terminal. The vehicle subsequently exploded, and at least one of the perps was badly burned. Most of the other members of the jihad attack group are said to have been apprehended. As they say in the U.K.,"fucking brilliant."

There is very little use, or so it seems to me, in asking questions such as why now, if one operates under the assumption that such attacks are necessarily launched by actual terrorists, as opposed to operatives intended to appear as terrorists in the service of a false flag operation. Madness you say? Perhaps, but other than blind faith of the sort sensible folks condemn in religious fanatics, is there a compelling reason, other than massive societal pressure, for you and I to accept the view that we are unerringly presented with, namely that Islamic jihadists are the single greatest menace to our well being, are constantly plotting to do us harm, and are, in fact, responsible for all these bizarre attacks?

The best evidence I have that the WOT is a hoax, (at least here in the U.S), likely designed to allow elites to enact agendas they otherwise couldn't, is the fact that since the attack on the World Trade Centers, the U.S. southern border has remained, for all intents and purposes, as porous as cheesecloth, yet there has not been one attack on U.S. soil since
9/11. I leave it to you to decide if our security forces are that good, or whether it is possible, perhaps even likely, that the threat we have been led to believe we are constantly under is either wildly exaggerated or non-existent.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I Had to Chuckle...Ruefully

So, Wall Street, according to a report yesterday on NPR, is worried about the gap, make that the epic yawning chasm, between rich and poor in the U.S. I doubt they are worried in the slightest about the gap, per se, but they may well be concerned about how the rich are treated when those the rich have screwed (that would be everyone who isn't rich) behave when their painkiller of choice, aka easy credit, er, debt, is taken away. That's a concern I can well believe they have. Well, they won't have long to wait to find out how great the fury of the restless and financially ruined will be, since, in my humble opinion, TSHTF ( see fan on high, and shit on sloppy), with full force sometime later this year and into '08. The last economic collapse of renown was, of course, The Great Depression. We should all gird our loins for tumult that at least rivals the early thirties as the global mania goes supernovae. The housing market collapse here in the U.S. is, of course, far greater in its ill effects than the MSM has heretofore portrayed it, but with each passing day, (see the freshly minted Bear Stearns sup-prime mortgage hedge fund debacle), the ugly truth becomes harder and harder to gloss over. So let "The Street" appear to fret over the financial inequities that they engineered and fostered. I for one am not impressed in the slightest over what is almost certainly nothing more than empty hand wringing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Test, This is Only a Test. Part 1

Today I am going to muse on the topic of where to deploy one's hard earned boodle, should one have any boodle (hard earned or not) to deploy. The following is not investment advice, just some thoughts on investments that might offer decent returns or perhaps just safe havens in our volatile investment universe. The time horizon for the as yet to be named investments is not tomorrow, or even next week, though price appreciation between now and then certainly can't be ruled out. To be precise, the investments I have in mind are meant to hold up in real terms, i.e. adjusted for inflation, over the span of many months and years.

My world view is such that I subscribe to Peak Oil and Gas as well as Global Warming, and therefore, as one might imagine, my investment outlook is biased towards investments in natural resources. However, that does not mean I think buying shares in Exxon Mobil, Marathon, or BP, or any of the other major petroleum companies is warranted at this precise moment. Price appreciation in the aforementioned has surely been impressive over the last few years, but there are several factors that make me cautious about such investments going forward. First, we may be, believe or not, and most will surely not, on the cusp of a severe deflation. Perhaps the best evidence that such a scenario is more than a little possible, is that almost no one thinks it remotely possible. In fact, the mere suggestion that deflation might be in our financial future is generally met with scorn and derision. So at the risk of being scorned, I'll explore some deflationary scenarios.

Were Peak Oil to be the proximate cause of a deflation, then oil investments, and most raw material investments would be, for a time, absurdly profitable provided the operations of the aforesaid were not subject to interference or cessation due to armed conflict, sudden crushing taxation or outright confiscation, all distinct possibilities as things would, by an order of magnitude, be more desperate than they are even now. However, were the catalyst for severe deflation be the result of a calamity in the world's financial structure, or due to, oh, say, the outbreak of a global avian flu epidemic, then, petroleum and mineral investments would, along with everything else, collapse like a tin shack in a typhoon.

Obviously, if the inflation we are now experiencing persists, or morphs into hyper-inflation, then any and all commodities will continue to outperform all other assets. Bear in mind that this outcome is the one that the vast majority cling to with an almost religious fervor. It is certainly true that in fiat based economies, which are all we have, all roads lead to inflation, and it is equally true that India and China are incipient economic behemoths seemingly smack dab in the middle of their growth spurts. However, despite these truths, there are massive imbalances in the global economy that will, in time, and perhaps sooner rather than later, rear their ugly head in such a way as to badly upset the happy apple cart that has heretefore given rise to fat profits in global shares. Next time, I will discuss my favorite investments. Hint: the title of my next post will be Amber Fields of Grain.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Part III Middling Through

Is it an accident that the proliferation of, ahem, opportunities to make a buck through the crucible of humiliating public spectacle seems to have grown by leaps and bounds at the same time that the purchasing power of the dollar has steadily collapsed? As the average American finds it more and more difficult to stay afloat, let alone get ahead, the temptation to gamble, with one's self respect as well as one's savings, has become, for quite a few, irresistible. How else are we to explain the growth of such desperate and false vehicles for self advancement as Big Brother, Fear Factor, Survivor, and, of course, casinos, ocurring at the same time that the standard of living of the average American has deteriorated.

At least casinos have the relative advantage of being somewhat private affairs, where one loses in front of the house and not in front of millions of TV viewers watching with Shadenfreude infused delight. I have no doubt that another factor that drives so many of hoi polloi to degrade themsleves on unreality based canned "entertainment" is the ramping up over the years of the culture of personality, where one is made to feel that the only humans that matter are those in the public eye, regardless of why they are in the public eye. We are, in short, a desperate culture, and while the proximate reason for the cancerous increase in unreal TV is due to an unhappy accident where a series of writer's and actor's strikes necessitated the manufacture of cheaply produced content, the reason it all persists is because there is an endless supply of folks who have no compunction about making complete asses of themselves, and, plenty of voyeurs who are only too happy to watch them do it.

Interestingly, the public display of desperate avariciousness started pretty much with the advent of television, some sixty years go, but the game show craze didn't really take off until the nineteen seventies, another period of economic distress, when game shows became ubiquitous on the boob tube as evidenced by such charmers as Let's Make a Deal, and The Price is Right. Of course today's offerings make those shows seem quaint, tame, really, by comparison. Ummm, the scent of progress, rarely has it smelled less sweet

Monday, June 4, 2007

Part II Middling Through

The connection between the destruction of the middle class and dwindling Democracy here in the U.S. is almost certainly a complex one. However, there is no doubt that the national condition of poorly distributed wealth has been thoroughly aided and abetted by a Federal Legislature and Executive that are, for all intents and purposes, owned and operated by corporate interests. The jury is in, and Globalization, and its progeny, NAFTA and GATT, to name a few examples, have done nothing to sustain, let alone elevate the coffers of our once solid and sizeable middle class. Rather the opposite has occurred, as the spawn of our new economic world order has, for the most part, only elevated the accounts of the heretefore wealthy. It is they who have seen the value of their holdings vastly increase. This is due in no small measure to companies that make everything from cell phones to sneakers being able to easily employ dirt cheap labor overseas. This, in turn, has allowed those business interests to raise their already profitable bottom lines. The Global village has been and is being pillaged, and now, glory be, members of the investment/trust fund class have an even bigger slice of the pie than ever before.

Karl Marx may have been dead wrong about the ultimate evolution of Communism into the dictatorship of the proletariat, but he was most certainly correct about the existence and nature of what is often snarlingly referred to by some members of the better off as, "class warfare." Now, as in Marx's day, class warfare is being vigorously waged in the U.S., but far more successfully by those at the top who have managed to insure that the much ballyhooed ownership society is, instead, one where the vast majority are owned, lock, stock, and barrel. The evidence for this is plain. Witness the very handy changes in the law making debt forgiveness, less, uh, forgiving. At the same time, not surprisingly, (though no less sickening for not being so), the Legislature has done nothing by way of providing necessary oversight of a rapacious banking sector thereby insuring that the number of citizens requiring debt relief in the coming years-see the ongoing housing debacle- will be steady and more probably steadily high. Well somebody got what they paid for, but it sure wasn't the middle class who most recently gambled on the Democrats to deliver a bit of Democracy. To date, however, the ever shrinking middle class seem to have lost that bet big time. Which brings me to the next subject in the next installment in this series, namely, our casino culture.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Part I Middling Through?

There are oodles of sites in the blogosphere the vast majority of which I am unacquainted with. I imagine that most blogs, likely mine included, are not sufficiently compelling to inspire repeat visits. However, there are a few that I have encountered that are worthy of regular stops on my internet forays. One I have in mind, an estimable blog entitled, SuddenDebt, is an excellent site for musings on economic and financial goings on here in the U.S. and around the globe. I urge anyone possessing even a modicum of interest in such matters to drop by. In fact, it is the most recent entry on that has inspired today's little jeremiad which will represent the first part in a series on the subject of the dissapearance of the U.S. middle class.

By now it is well known that globalization has delivered something like the coup de grace to the existence of decent, well paying, semi-skilled employment (aka manufacturing jobs) in the U.S. What may not be as well known, let alone acknowledged, is that concomitant with the vitiation of the U.S. manufacturing base has ensued the not coincidental erosion of Democracy.

With the removal of well compensated, semi-skilled employment, the U.S. would no longer have what still passes for a middle class save for the easy issuance of debt to just about any homeowner regardless of their financial circumstances. Once, it was taken as an article of faith that the middle class was the essential component supporting widespread social stability. To further flesh out the idea, the thinking went that the middle class acted as a buffer between the prosperous few and the restless many such that the very existence of a middle class gave hope to the denizens of the lowest echelon that it was within their reach to elevate themselves above their difficult and deprived circumstances.

But what does this have to do with Democracy? More precisely, what does the dissapearance of this nation's middle class have to do with the erosion of Democracy in the U.S? Stay tuned.