Meet the New XO's

Effective 03 January 2012:
  • 001 - Al Nagode
  • 002 - Corwin Calhoun
  • 003 - Kenneth Johnson
  • 004 - Kevin Navarro
  • 005 - James O'Donnell
  • 005 - James Jones
  • 006 - Juan Morado
  • 007 - Edward Kulbida
  • 008 - Dennis Walsh
  • 009 - Robert Johnson
  • 010 - Richard Aguinaga
  • 011 - Roger Bay
  • 012 - Ronald Pontecore
  • 013 - Kevin Anderson
  • 014 - Marc Buslik
  • 015 - Mark Scheithauer
  • 016 - Edward Lenti
  • 017 - Thomas Karnickk
  • 018 - Edward Denk
  • 019 - Michael Ryan
  • 020 - Henny Penny Trahanas
  • 021 - Lynette Helm
  • 022 - Michael Alexander
  • 023 - Nancy Lipman
  • 024 - John Matula
  • 025 - Lupe Pena

The Units:

  • Thomas Lemmer - 393
    Martin Ryczek - 543
    Eli Voulgaris - 142
    James Gibson - 606
    Terrance Williams - 620
    Hootan Bahmandeji - 701

And the new & improved Inspectors!

  • Brigid Forlenza; Joseph Boisso; Leo Crotty; Delores Deloughery; Jerome Fluder; Christine Kolman; Janice Robards-Dillon; Joseph Vaclavik; Ruth Wedster; Cynthia White (seriously??);
Wow. The headcases, shady and clouted among those Inspector names is amazing.

UPDATE: Minor corrections. Whomever sent us the list didn't count the double in 005 and everything ended up off one number. They also left off the details to Units among the Inspectors. Those are in the comment section and we'll update the main page later.

Reward up to $13,000

  • A group of Chicago-area ministers is adding to a reward in the shooting death of Officer Clifton Lewis.

    Lewis was killed while working a part-time job as security guard in a convenience store near Austin and Division. Police say two masked men stormed in and opened fire, killing Lewis.

    The local faith leaders met at the store Saturday to announce the reward and to urge the public to come forward and help police.

From what we see looking in, the Department is putting a good effort behind this one.

No Charges = More Bloodshed

  • A man accused of gunning down two and wounding five others at a packed Englewood fast-food restaurant was ordered held without bail on Saturday.

    But Arthur Chaney, 23, of the 6600 block of South Peoria was being treated for sickle cell anemia at an area hospital and did not appear in bond court for his hearing.

  • Records show Chaney faced weapons charges in 2010 but those charges were later dropped. He was sentenced in 2009 to one year of court supervision for unlawful use of a weapon and failing to register a firearm.
Gee, weapon charges in 2009 and 2010 for a grand total of "one year of court supervision" results in 2 murders and 5 wounded in 2011.

Englewood Rings Another

Congratulations to 007, who ran away with the homicide total this year. In fact, they keep rolling right up until the New Year:
  • A teenager was fatally shot Saturday afternoon in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, police said.

    Police responded at 3:05 p.m. to the 6000 block of South Green Street, according to police News Affairs Officer Darryl Baety, citing preliminary information.

    Officers found an 18-year-old man who had been shot twice in the neck seated inside a White Cadillac at the Green Street address, according to police News Affairs...
The next closest competitor was so far distant, they weren't even in contention since July or August.

17 States Still Project Budget Deficits (It Will Get Much Worse); Moving Targets and the Slowing Global Economy

State economies have partially recovered from the depths of 2009 and early 2010, but 17 states still project deficits. Moreover, there are no rainy day funds or untapped revenue sources, and some "temporary" tax hikes are set to expire. California is $13 billion in the hole but that is a huge improvement compared to the $40 billion hole previously.

Yahoo!Finance reports State revenue rises, but not enough to offset cuts
Twenty-nine states are spending less from their general funds today than they did before the recession, according to a recent joint survey from the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers.

More than 30 states have raised taxes since the recession began, but some of those increases were temporary and are expiring soon, as in Arizona. With the economy slowly reviving and unemployment rates dipping, many governors and lawmakers say they don't want to jeopardize the recovery by raising taxes again.

But tax revenue is not expected to grow enough to make up for the impact of four years of dismal economic times. Rainy-day funds, internal transfers and other one-time sources have largely been tapped, so governors and lawmakers must look for new places to cut spending.

Changes to public employee retirement benefits and sweeping reforms to health care programs such as Medicaid are among the most likely targets.

At least 17 states project budget gaps for the next fiscal year, while a handful need to balance budgets in the remaining six months of the current budget year. The revenue of all 50 states combined remains $21 billion below 2008 levels, according to the National Governors Association-NASBO report.

Budget gaps in states projecting shortfalls in the 2012-13 fiscal year are estimated to total $40 billion. By comparison, California alone closed a deficit of $42 billion in 2009, during the worst of recession.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers have fewer options to close the $13 billion shortfall that is projected over the next 18 months.

In December, Brown ordered $1 billion in midyear spending reductions to public schools, universities and social services because tax revenue did not meet projections. The state has given school districts the option of slicing another seven days from the current school year, now 175 days long. That already is five days shorter than before the recession.

Low-income seniors and the disabled will get less in-home care when the reductions start in January. School advocates warn that an estimated 1 million students will have trouble getting to class with a drop in home-to-school transportation funding.

"The cut to transportation is absolutely devastating," said Steve Henderson, a lobbyist for the California School Employees Association. "What that means is a lot of low-income and rural kids will not have the ability to get to school."

Brown has proposed a 2012 ballot initiative to raise $7 billion annually through 2016 by boosting income taxes on individuals making $250,000 or more a year and increasing the state sales tax by a half-cent. He also has submitted a plan to the Legislature to revamp public employee pensions.

Washington state is considering similar cuts to cope with its shortfall, including shortening its school year, eliminating medical programs for 55,000 low-income residents and letting some low- and moderate-risk offenders out of prison early.

Missouri is reducing funding for elementary and secondary education to close a mid-year budget deficit tied to tornado recovery. North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, is warning of thousands of teacher layoffs next fall because federal aid to local school districts is running out.

Moving Targets and the Slowing Global Economy

Things look better than the depths of the recession, but there are two major problems

  1. Moving Targets
  2. Slowing Global Economy

Unlike 2011, the US will not be immune from slowing global economy, especially in the Eurozone and China. Europe will enter a massive recession and there will be spillover effects. I expect an outright recession in the US, but more certainly a profit recession.

In turn, this will mean states will face moving targets and revenues will not meet expectations, just as is happening in Europe right now.

Worse yet, there are no rainy day funds anywhere, and many feel states have already cut services to the bone. This time around, don't expect much help from Congress. It's simply not coming.

Finally, with the stock market flat in 2011, it's safe to assume state pension plans are deeper in the hole than a year ago. Most pension plan assumptions have expectations of 8% or 8.5% growth. It did not happen in 2011, and I expect 2012 to be much worse.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Spain's Budget Minister says "Serious Budget Shortfalls in All 17 Autonomous Regions"; Primer Minister Announces $19.3 Billion Package of Tax Hikes; Cockroaches and the Theory of the Unexpected

Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has finally admitted three things I have been saying for a long time

  1. Spain's regions were in deep fiscal trouble if not bankrupt
  2. Spain could not possibly hit its deficit targets for 2012
  3. It is mathematically impossible for Spain to meet deficit goals without raising taxes, no matter how much he insisted otherwise.

The truth (at least partial truth) is out today with an announcement from Rajoy regarding a major tax hike, and an announcement from the budget minister regarding "serious budget shortfalls in its 17 autonomous regions, which have spent recklessly in the past decade."

The budget deficit target is 6%, but the Prime Minister says it will "unexpectedly" be 8% so further austerity measures will be needed.

The New York Times reports Spending by Regions Makes Spain’s Fiscal Picture Worse
Facing a wider then expected budget deficit, Spain’s new government announced a $19.3 billion package of tax hikes and spending cuts Friday and admitted the picture was likely even worse than it appeared because of overspending by the country’s autonomous regions.

The new budget minister, Cristóbal Montoro, made clear Friday: serious budget shortfalls in its 17 autonomous regions, which have spent recklessly in the past decade.

The Bank of Spain announced this month that regional debt had surged 22 percent, to $176 billion in September from $144 billion the year before. And some experts say that there remain tens of billions of dollars in “hidden” regional debt yet to be discovered.

That “hidden debt,” most of it in unpaid bills, is not included in Spain’s total national indebtedness of $915 billion. That could easily amount to $25 billion to $40 billion more, experts say.
Hidden Debt and Regional Problems


I have talked about hidden debt, hidden losses, hidden deficits, and various regional problems many times. Here is a sampling:


Cockroaches and the Theory of the Unexpected

Mariano Rajoy says this news is "unexpected". It cannot possibly be. I have been talking about these problems for many months. The admission by Rajoy simply means the problem is so bad that Spain can no longer hide all of the cockroaches.

The cockroach theory says that when you see one cockroach there are at least a hundred more. In this case, we see dozens of cockroaches openly scurrying about.

I suggest the problems are still far bigger than reported and the economic situation will get much worse.

Problems to Get Much Worse

Major tax hikes in the midst of a serious recession, with unemployment rate at 22.8% (and rising) makes no economic sense. Yet that is exactly the medicine prescribed by the EMU and agreed to by Rajoy.

Spain will find it impossible to meet its deficit target even after these hikes because of the resultant drop in economic activity.

Italy, Portugal, and Greece are in the same boat. And with all these slowdowns, precisely who is Germany going to export its products to?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Celebrate Safely

Be careful tonight. Please. All joking aside about "amateur night" and other such nonsense. An amateur can cause as many problems as a professional.

Be safe.

$10,000 Reward

  • The police Memorial Foundation is offering a $10,000 cash reward for information leading to an arrest; call 1-888-YPO-SHOT (976-7468). The foundation's representative at the press conference said it is giving Lewis' family a $50,000 check in coming days.

And if the story couldn't get impossibly sadder...

  • Lewis, who McCarthy said has received 81 commendations for his police work, had proposed to his girlfriend, Tamara Tucker, only after asking her 18-year-old son, Keyonta Thomas, for permission. On Christmas morning, Lewis pulled her son aside and asked for her "hand in marriage," said Thomas, 18.

    "I am just at a loss for words," said Thomas, who said he saw Lewis as a father.

    "He was just as a father (to me). ... He took me in as his child."

    Ron Tucker, Tamara's father, also mentioned that the couple had just gotten engaged Christmas Day.
Funeral arrangements to be posted shortly.

Tax Cut!

  • Starting Sunday, the next time you dine out or buy a big screen television in the Chicago area you should find a little extra change in your pocket.

    That’s because the dawn of the New Year means Cook County’s sales tax falls a quarter cent. In most parts of Chicago, the combined city, county and state sales tax rate falls from 9.75 percent to 9.5 percent on all retail purchases except groceries.

    Likewise, taxes on a restaurant tab will fall a quarter cent but will vary depending where you dine out. Restaurants inside a special taxing district that includes downtown Chicago will see taxes fall from 11 percent to 10.75 percent, for example.

    But don’t get too excited: Chicago retains the dubious distinction of having the highest sales tax rate of any big city in the nation.
Now....where to spend our gains. Not Chicago, and certainly not Cook County. Suggestions?

Additional 2012 Predictions: Trade Wars, US Election, Precious Metals, Energy

I inadvertently left off an item regarding trade wars that I intended to mention in Mish 2012 Predictions; 2011 Year in Review with Max Keiser. I also have some commentary on the US election, precious metals, and energy.

Trade Wars

Expect Global Trade Wars: Look for tit-for-tat trade wars to heat up in 2012 as noted previously in China to Impose Anti-Dumping Duties on GM; "Fair Trade" Idea is Self-Serving Scam; Proposal to Stop "Free Sunlight" Gains Support From Mitt Romney. Should Mitt Romney win the election, expect global trade to collapse in 2013. Trade wars will not be good for equity prices.


US Election

US Political Roadmap: If President Obama dumps Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential candidate as Robert Reich suggests in My Political Prediction for 2012: It’s Obama-Clinton, Obama will win re-election unless the Republican candidate is specifically Ron Paul. Clearly this is not an endorsement of Obama, it is a prediction. Some mistook my 2008 prediction for Obama as an endorsement. It wasn't. I wrote in Ron Paul in 2008 and will do so again unless he is the nominee. If Ron Paul is the Republican nominee I think Paul would draw enough crossover votes from independents and Democrats who are sick of war and big government to win. If it's Obama-Biden vs. Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney then it's too close to call.

Energy

Oil is a wildcard. My prediction is cooler heads prevail. However, the election is 11 months away and that is a lot of time for someone to get carried away. The odds the US initiates an attack on Iran under Ron Paul are virtually zero. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for any of the other major candidates. Should the US or Israel attack Iran (I do not believe the US will), then the price of crude will quickly skyrocket by $50 or more. Such an oil shock would immediately send the entire global economy into a severe recession.

Precious Metals

Precious Metals Roadmap: What follows is more of an approach than a prediction. Gold remains a much safer play than silver, something I have said for years. Technically silver is flirting with a breakdown of major support at $27. If that low does not hold, a decline to the low-to-mid $20's is likely (something I said earlier this year when silver was near $50). I have no target for gold. The longer the US holds off quantitative easing and the ECB lets the sovereign debt crisis simmer without action, the bigger the potential drop in precious metals. Moreover, silver is likely to take a bigger hit than gold (percentage-wise) in a recession or global slowdown because silver is an industrial commodity and Chinese demand for industrial commodities is poised to plunge. Both gold and silver are more likely to be weaker earlier in the year as opposed to the second half given the Bernanke Fed does not look to launch QE3 any time soon. If the stock market and energy prices plunge in the first half of 2012, Bernanke will be more inclined to launch another QE program and that would be beneficial to precious metals.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Explaining Italian Christmas Season Sales (It's Far Worse Than Previously Reported); How Various Austerity Measures Will Affect Spending in 2012; Emails from Italian Readers; Massive European Recession On the Way

In response to Italians Cut Spending in Worst Christmas in 10 Years; Harsh Times Ahead for All Europe (an article translated from Spanish that had me puzzled about a number of things even though I could tell spending fell dramatically), reader Andrea offers a very nice explanation of just how bad things are in Italy.
Hello Mish,

I can help your readers better understand the reported "spending cuts in Italy".

Coldiretti is the farmers lobby and they claim that for Christmas day dinner and lunch they spent 2.3 billion Euros, 18% less than last year and the lowest figure since 2001: Christmas day dinner and lunch (and generally speaking food) is typically a strong tradition that Italians wants to keep as much abundant and tasty as possible even through the worst times, this is why is such an important figure.

The other figure you mention ("The consumer group estimates "as much as 40 percent") is related to something completely different and it is an estimate. Just after the Christmas period (from the first days of January) in Italy and in Europe in general you have a "discounted sales", where retailers sell items at a discounted price to empty their stocks and of the items unsold during the normal season.

Typically this is a consistent part of the sales of the year and people used to rush in the shops since the very first hours of the first days to get the best bargains.

Codacons (one of the biggest consumer associations) estimates that the "discounted sales" this year will be 30%-40% less than last year. Federconsumatori (another consumer association) instead estimates a reduction of 19/20%, which is probably more close to reality (people have probably waited this season to buy something not urgent). If this happens, it will certainly be a huge sign that recession is beating hard.

Regarding total spending during the holiday season, it is quite hard to find a comparison with the last year. The typical comparison reported by media is between the forecast of another consumer association (Federconsumatori) and the actual results: Federconsumatori forecast 4.4 billion and instead the total was 4 billion, so 10% less than forecast.

However, looking in the Federconsumatori Website I found the final result for last year: roughly 5 billion. Therefore, Italy had a 20% decline through Christmas, not the 9% cited in the link you referenced. That 9% drop was based on estimates that had already factored in some of the decline.

This was a massive spending reduction for a season that makes a big part of the revenues of the year. Please note that in Italy employees get the so-called "tredicesima", a thirteenth monthly salary just before the Christmas period, and this is cash that typically helped to lift sales during this period.

By the way, on Federconsumatori website you can find a lot of statistics about spending, prices and so on, unfortunately in Italian.

The most hit seem to be clothes and shoes sectors, which are by the way typical sectors that instead have a lot of sales during the "discount season".

Actually I have been in Italy a few days around Christmas and generally speaking the atmosphere is quite gloom: all the time on the media the main topic is austerity, how much it will affect the spending power, frugal Christmas and so on.

The tax hikes are quite massive : apart the tax on house ownership (which was canceled by Berlusconi government 3 years ago and so is just a comeback), there will be tax increase on revenues applied by each Italian region, there has been increase between 5 and 10% of fuel (petrol, diesel, propane and methane).

Federconsumatori estimates that the sum of the all the austerity budget laws passed this year (Berlusconi + Monti) will reduce the spending power of a typical family of 7.6%.

Best regards,

Andrea
Email from an Expatriate Living in Italy

Here is a second email from a reader. This one is from Mikkel, an expatriate who now lives in Italy.
Hi Mish
I am a expat living in Italy for the last 6 years.

Italy is a wonderful, but strange country. In a politically incorrect and stereotypical analysis of Italy's problems, the North produces, the South lives off the wealth created by the North, and the omnipotent elected assembly (where you do not vote for the candidate, but the party),  allows the main politicians like Berlusconi to stay in office nearly forever.

Fortunately, Italy is a country of savers. However, huge fiscal pressure have forced over 60% the Italians to spend less. A liter of gas costs now 1.70 euros (over half is in taxes). That amounts to $8.35/gallon.

Assuming one has a job (official unemployment rate is 8.5%), the average salary is 1200 euro net/month or less, but you still need to pay 21% IVA on all goods, car insurance, gas + taxes, utilities, property and car taxes, etc. Gross salaries are on the order of 2500 euros/month. How much money do people have left to save and invest for the future?

It will be interesting to see what happens.
Thanks
Mikkel
Massive European Recession On the Way

As I have said numerous times, European countries are in dire need of work rule changes, less government spending, less bureaucracy, and fewer taxes. Unfortunately, bureaucrats have responded with increased taxes.

The recession in Europe, which has already started, will be massive.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

And If That Wasn't Bad Enough...

We're taking this one down for now. The amount of conflicting information available at this time leaves us little recourse.

French Unemployment Hits 12-Year High (It's Going to Get Much Worse); Sarkozy Outlines Jobs Plan (Mathematically It Can't Work); Olli Rehn to Give Keynote Speech at Eurobond Seminar

The EU Observer reports France to hold jobs summit as unemployment hits 12-year high
A sharp rise in France's unemployment figures is putting pressure on President Nicolas Sarkozy to deliver, with over half the French population wanting the candidates for the spring presidential election to focus their energies on maintaining jobs.

Figures released by the labour ministry this week show that the number of those unemployed hit 2.85 million in November, a 12-year high and the seventh consecutive monthly increase.

The numbers have sparked a debate in France about the nature and future of employment with Sarkozy convening a jobs summit on 18 January.

Unemployment as an issue is a number-one priority on French voters' minds. According to a poll in La Croix newspaper, 52 percent of French people want the candidates for the April presidential elections to focus on responses that "maintain employment."

Of the main candidates in the running, socialist contender Francois Hollande is seen as proposing the best solutions to the daily problems of French citizens by 24 percent of those polled. Sarkozy comes in second with 20 percent and far-right politician Marine Le Pen in third place (16%).

While all candidates will focus on combatting unemployment and there are set to be many proposals for economic growth, their hands will be tied by France's commitment to reduce its high budget deficit, as part of an overall plan to contain the eurozone debt crisis.
Sarkozy Outlines Jobs Plan Based on German Program (Mathematically It Can't Work)

The Wall Street Journal Reports Sarkozy Outlines Jobs Plan
Largely inspired by measures Germany relied on to navigate the 2009 economic recession, [Sarkozy's] draft plan calls for companies to retain all staff even if they are faced with a slump in orders, and for workers to accept lower pay. As an incentive and to help pay for the move, the government would kick in for some of the lost wages and social-security contributions, according to officials at the French Labor Ministry and union leaders who were briefed on the proposed pact.

Mr. Sarkozy intends to discuss both the job-saving scheme, and the flexibility idea at a meeting with labor and employer unions on Jan. 18. By then, the government must answer a key question: how to finance measures that officials say could cost more than €1 billion ($1.3 billion) next year.

Five months ahead of presidential elections, Mr. Sarkozy is already fighting on multiple fronts to reduce the budget deficit, preserve the country's triple-A debt rating and find a comprehensive solution to the protracted euro-zone debt crisis.

The unemployment rate—which rose to 9.7% of the active population in the third quarter—is the latest bad news on France's economic dashboard. The country's trade deficit is projected to widen to an all-time high of €75 billion this year, and the national statistics office, Insee, has forecast that the economy will likely contract in the current quarter and the first quarter of next year.

In France, the measure is likely to gather support from trade unions as long as the government commits to compensate pay cuts. "We're on board as long as the government puts some money on the table," said Jean-Claude Mailly, the head of Force Ouvrière, France's third-largest union.

The French government's idea to increase work-time and pay flexibility is likely to meet much more resistance.

"All labor unions will say 'No,' because that would amount to making workers pay for the economic downturn," said Mourad Rabhi, a leader at CGT, France's second-largest union. "And in France there isn't the same climate of mutual confidence between workers and companies, as in Germany."
Mathematically It Can't Work

The unions will agree to pay cuts as long as there are no pay cuts (government kicks in the rest). Moreover the unions will not agree to increase work-time and pay flexibility because "that would amount to making workers pay for the economic downturn"

Heaven forbid. Meanwhile, Sarkozy needs to trim the deficit, not increase it, and his proposal does the opposite.

Note that Hollande is widely predicted to beat Sarkozy in an election runoff, and Hollande is running on a platform to make changes to the agreement reached between Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Expect European Unemployment to Get Much Worse

Europe is already in a nasty recession. Austerity measures coupled with tax hikes in numerous countries but especially Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece will make matters much worse.

"United States of Europe" Author Hosts Eurobonds Seminar

The galling arrogance of Eurocrats is rather stunning. While reading the EU Observer article at the top, this Ad for a Eurobonds Seminar on January 10, 2011 popped up.



Olli Rehn is Vice President of the European Commission. Guy Verhofstadt MEP is the Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and author of the book United States of Europe (2006), the New Age of Empires (2008) and How Europe can Save the World (2009).


Tireless, Dangerous Demagogues

Rehn and Verhofstadt are tireless, socialist fools as well as dangerous demagogues dedicated to the destruction of sovereign rights of every nation in the EMU. They ought to scare the bejeebies out of any sane person who is not in favor of a European Nanny-Zone.

Their brainwashing event, marketed as a seminar on eurobonds is already filled up.

The primary thing stopping these socialists and their nanny-zone ideal is the German supreme court.

This past Wednesday, German Constitutional Court Judge Udo Di Fabio said in a Spiegel interview "It's a Mistake To Pursue a United States of Europe".

Please note that Di Fabio sees Euro-bonds as illegal.

However, the judge proved his naiveté with his statement "no politician really intends to transfer their power of disposition over the substance of the national budget at an EU level".

On the contrary, the European Parliament is loaded with nanny-zone proponents who are conducting seminars on how to do just that.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Race Baiting and Ron Paul: Actions Speak Louder Than Words; Truth is Indeed Powerful

When it comes to Ron Paul, many people pretend, with great indignation, that words not even said speak louder than actions. Jonathan Capehart writing for the Washington Post is such a person.

Before explaining further, first let's watch a video.



Admittedly that is a political ad. So what?

Here is the key question: Is there any reason to doubt the events in the video? If so why? Assuming, the video true, is there any reason to believe there is a racist bone in Ron Paul's body? Can the same be said for Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, or even Barrack Obama?

Mind you, the video describes an action, one that shows true character at precisely the right time. Sadly, Jonathan Capehart does not give a damn about that, he would rather spread lies and innuendo.

Please consider Ron Paul deserves to be ‘blot out’.
The new ad from Revolution PAC is pretty powerful. James Williams, a black man, talks about his efforts to get medical attention for his pregnant white wife at a Texas hospital in the 1970s. The crescendo comes when a young doctor named Ron Paul broke through the indifference of the staff to give them the help they needed. Their baby would be stillborn. And Paul paid their medical expenses. Then Williams extols the virtues of Paul — his honesty and willingness to take on the establishment.
Truth is Indeed Powerful

Yes, Jonathan. The video is indeed powerful. The simple explanation is truth is always powerful. Lies and innuendo aren't.

Nonetheless Capehart prefers to go on spreading innuendo.
Revolution PAC is hoping that a black man coming to the defense of Paul will blot out the controversy surrounding the Texas congressman and the racists statements polluting newsletters bearing his name in the 1980s and 1990s.

Paul, a man who wants to be entrusted with the presidency, owes the American people a clear accounting of how hatred came to be scribbled regularly in publications bearing his name and how he had no knowledge of it. His dismissive disavowal of the matter is beyond inadequate.
Nothing will satisfy Jonathan Capehart. That video proves it. How? Capehart embedded the video in his post.

It matters not to Capehart that Paul did not say the things attributed to him. All that matters to Capehart is that Paul's name was associated with them. If Capehart is looking for racists, he ought to look in the mirror.

Only racists or fools (Capehart is both) can possibly believe that words not even said, are more important than actions!

Nonetheless, I thank Capehart. His article will be seen by thousands, and people will see Capehart for the racist fool he is.

Racist's and fool's minds are already made up. However, everyone else (and this is far more important) will see Ron Paul is not the racist that Capehart portrays him to be.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Officer Down

Channel 9 reporting an off-duty officer shot, transported in critical condition to the hospital. We're trying to find out details.

Prayers for the Officer.

UPDATE: Breaking News link. Austin and Division neighborhood.

Stroger Hospital.

UPDATE: The Officer has died of his wounds:
  • A off-duty Chicago Police officer died after being shot Thursday evening while working security at a grocery in the West Side Austin neighborhood, police said.

    He was shot during a robbery around 8:30 p.m. at M&M Quick Foods in the 1200 block of North Austin, officials said.

    The officer died at Stroger Hospital, officials said.

    Jerod Dent, 25, who lives near the store, said the officer had just been hired about a week ago after the store was robbed about three weeks ago.

Regular posting will be suspended tonight. Sarcasm & Silliness have a time and a place and unfortunately, this isn't it.

China to Withdraw Support for Foreign Investment in Autos; Three Reasons China Will Not Be a Boon to Global Auto Sales

US and other auto manufacturers banking on increased car sales in China for 2012 have three reasons to be concerned.

  1. Blistering growth in Chinese auto sales is expected to plunge
  2. China is taking efforts to dampen foreign investment in autos
  3. Trade wars

The Wall Street Journal reports China to Damp Foreign Investment in Auto Sector
China will withdraw its support for foreign capital in the country's auto-manufacturing sector in an effort to build up its domestic industry, state media reported late Thursday.

The report from the state-run Xinhua news agency didn't disclose additional details, and it was unclear whether it would impact existing operations by foreign auto makers. U.S. and European auto makers, including General Motors Co. and Volkswagen AG, and Japanese auto makers like Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have long produced cars in the country through joint ventures with local partners.

Foreign auto makers have played a key role as China has shot up to become the world's No. 1 auto market. After blistering growth, auto sales this year are expected to grow no more than 3%, which would total 18.6 million vehicles, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group.

The report said officials would encourage more foreign investment into environmentally friendly technologies, alternative-fuel cars and other areas with guidelines taking effect Jan. 30. The government will lower foreign restrictions by allowing companies to invest in more sectors and increasing caps on the amount of foreign capital in some areas, the report said.
Clearly China is concerned about growth. So, don't look for efforts by foreign manufacturers to expand production or build new plants in China to be approved.

Moreover, look for tit-for-tat trade wars to heat up in 2012 as noted in China to Impose Anti-Dumping Duties on GM; "Fair Trade" Idea is Self-Serving Scam; Proposal to Stop "Free Sunlight" Gains Support From Mitt Romney.

Should Mitt Romney win the election, expect global trade to collapse in 2013.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Do Blogs Present "News" or "Commentary"? Is there a Difference? Should There Be?

Do bloggers present "news" or "commentary"?

The reason I ask is the advertising agency that represents my blog said advertisers were "looking to hear from our publishers on whether or not they break new stories".

Do I break news stories? Is reporting on the news (which is in general what all the economic bloggers do), news in and of itself?

My initial thought was that I comment on the news, not "break news stories". As I look at Calculated Risk, the Big Picture, and even Zero Hedge I would suggest we all primarily comment on the news, although all of us occasionally have major exclusive thoughts.

The criteria, however, which I initially missed was "external news sources crediting my blog".

On that basis, it is crystal clear that Calculated Risk, the Big Picture, Zero Hedge and my blog are news sources. Nonetheless I needed to provide recent citations.

My search turned up many things I was aware of and a few things I was not aware of at all.

Here are some examples I was well aware of in advance.

Known List


Surprise List

I frequently review my hit list as do other bloggers. There are numerous other examples I could cite. I found one big surprise in my search.

Top 10 Blogger Blogs

Please consider the top ten blogspot blogs 2011- blogger powered blogs

The first 9 “blogspot” blogs are Google internal blogs. I was quite surprised to find myself in the list at all. Yet there I am, at #10. I do not know for how long. If Google launches another blog, not long. However, the record shows I did beat out the official Twitter blog and other prominent blogs.
#10 Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management.
Alexa Traffic Rank: 18,583 , Links to Site: 3138

Top Financial Blog Citations

  1. New York Times: NYT 10th Annual Year in Ideas - #1 Idea of the Year 'Do-It-Yourself Macroeconomics'
  2. Time Magazine: Best 25 Financial Blogs
  3. Bloomberg: Financial Blogs: The Best of the Bunch


Still, I return to the initial question. Do bloggers offer "news" or "commentary"? What does Fox News offer? The Wall Street Journal? LA Times?

Look at recent headlines by Time Magazine, the LA Times, CNN, Huffington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and numerous other places that "Ron Paul Walked Out" of an interview with CNN.

The truth is quite different as noted in Ron Paul Did Not "Walk Out" of CNN Interview; Blatantly Biased Headline by Time Magazine; Six Reasons to Vote for Paul


Much of what is presented as "facts" by major news organizations is in reality an infomercial for a slanted point of view. Furthermore, major news stories headlines frequently do not match the article.

Government data is often questionable, and I would be remiss if I failed to point out Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg PM and Head Euro-Zone Finance Minister famously stated "When it becomes serious, you have to lie". In such cases, even if the news reporting is not purposely slanted, an article itself might be, unbeknown by the writer.

So, is anything really news, or is it all commentary? At least with bloggers, everyone understands the score.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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Charts of the Day: European Demand Deposits; Global Equity Performance

Here are a couple of charts to consider courtesy of Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank in Denmark.

European Demand Deposits



Clearly capital flight is taking place in a major way in Greece and an important if relatively minor (for now) way in Italy.

Global Equity Performance



click on chart for sharper image

Don't expect the same degree of out-performance from US equities in 2012.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Assailant Shot, Killed

  • Police responding to a domestic incident on the Southeast Side early Wednesday shot and killed a man who allegedly lunged at them with a knife.

    The fatal police-involved shooting happened about 1:40 a.m. in the 9500 block of South Avenue L, according to Scott Ando of the Independent Police Review Authority.

    Officers were responding to a domestic disturbance in a third-floor apartment and saw a man armed with a knife as they walked in, according to a statement from police News Affairs. The officers announced that they were police and ordered him to drop the knife. He then lunged at them and the officers fired at him, the statement said.

    The man was fatally wounded, the statement said. The officers were not injured, and the knife was recovered at the scene.
Good job officers. Expect lots of calls from Chuck Goudie though - he thinks you're out of control.

Mish 2012 Predictions; 2011 Year in Review with Max Keiser

Shortly before Christmas I did a video discussion of 2011 with Max Keiser with a look-ahead to a few ideas for 2012.



Link if video does not play: On the Edge with Mish Shedlock

Part of the discussion was a recap of some of my call for 2011 as noted in Mish 2011 Predictions Review

Looking ahead to 2102, I see a continuation of the same themes, but a few new ideas as well.

Ten Themes for 2012

  1. Severe European Recession as the sovereign debt crisis escalates: Austerity measures in Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal plunges all of Europe into a major recession. Spain and Portugal will follow Greece into an outright depression.
  2.  
  3. Political Crisis in Europe: French President Sarkozy loses to socialist challenger Francois Hollande. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition collapses. The Merkozy agreement is either modified to do virtually nothing or is not ratified at all. This chain of events will not be good for European equities or European bonds.
  4.  
  5. Relatively Minor US Economic Recession: The US will not avoid a recession in 2012. Retail spending ran its course with the tail-off into Christmas of 2011. The Republican Congress has little incentive for fiscal stimulus measures in 2012 so do not expect any. However, with housing already limping along the bottom in terms of construction and investment (not prices), a US GDP decline will not be severe. The US may see a recession even if GDP barely drops. Certainly the US recession will be far less severe than the recession in Europe and Australia.
  6.  
  7. Major Profit Recession in US: Profit margins in the US will be torn to shreds as businesses will be unable to reduce costs the same way they did in 2008 and 2009 (by shedding massive numbers of employees).
  8.  
  9. Global Equity Prices Under Huge Pressure: Don't expect the same degree of reverse decoupling of US equities we saw in 2011. The US economy will be better than Europe, but equities globally will take a hit, including the US. Simply put, stocks are not cheap.
  10.  
  11. Fiscal Crisis in Japan Comes to Forefront: Japan's fiscal crisis and debt to the tune of 200+% of GDP finally matters. The crisis in Japan will start out as a whimper not a bang, but will worsen as the year wears on. If Japan responds by monetizing debt, not a remote possibility at all, Japanese equities will massively outperform in nominal and perhaps even in real terms. "Real" means "yen-adjusted", not "inflation-adjusted" terms.
  12.  
  13. Few Hiding Spots Other than the US Dollar: US treasuries and German bonds were safe havens in 2011, but with yields already depressed don't expect huge gains. Expect to see a strengthening of the US dollar across the board against all major currencies. Moreover, cash (one the most despised asset classes ever), may outperform nearly everything, even if the dollar goes virtually nowhere. Hiding places will be few and far between for much of 2012.
  14.  
  15. US Public Union Pension Plans Under Attack: States finally realize the need to rein in pension plans much to the dismay of public unions. Social and economic tensions in the US rise.
  16.  
  17. Regime Change in China has Major Ramifications: China will start a major shift from a growth model dependent on housing and infrastructure to a consumer-driven model. The transition will not be smooth. Property prices in China will collapse and commodity prices will remain under pressure.
  18.  
  19. Hyperinflation Calls Once Again Will Look Laughable: Unless there is a major disruption in the Mideast (which I do not rule out by any means), oil prices will drop and food prices will follow. If so, we will once again see silly talk from the Fed about preventing "unwelcome drops in inflation". As always, the deflation key is not prices at all but rather credit and credit marked-to-market. Expect credit in all forms to come under attack and expect junk bonds take a hit as well. By the way, regardless of what happens to oil prices, hyperinflation calls will look silly.
Addendum:

2011-12-30
Several people have asked me to comment on precious metals. I also wanted to mention trade wars and energy.

Trade Wars

Expect Global Trade Wars: Look for tit-for-tat trade wars to heat up in 2012 as noted previously in China to Impose Anti-Dumping Duties on GM; "Fair Trade" Idea is Self-Serving Scam; Proposal to Stop "Free Sunlight" Gains Support From Mitt Romney. Should Mitt Romney win the election, expect global trade to collapse in 2013. Trade wars will not be good for equity prices.  

US Election

US Political Roadmap: If President Obama dumps Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential candidate as Robert Reich suggests in My Political Prediction for 2012: It’s Obama-Clinton, Obama will win re-election unless the Republican candidate is specifically Ron Paul. Clearly this is not an endorsement of Obama, it is a prediction. Some mistook my 2008 prediction for Obama as an endorsement. It wasn't. I wrote in Ron Paul in 2008 and will do so again unless he is the nominee. If Ron Paul is the Republican nominee I think Paul would draw enough crossover votes from independents and Democrats who are sick of war and big government to win. If it's Obama-Biden vs. Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney then it's too close to call.

Energy

Oil is a wildcard. My prediction is cooler heads prevail. However, the election is 11 months away and that is a lot of time for someone to get carried away. The odds the US initiates an attack on Iran under Ron Paul are virtually zero. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for any of the other major candidates. Should the US or Israel attack Iran (I do not believe the US will), then the price of crude will quickly skyrocket by $50 or more. Such an oil shock would immediately send the entire global economy into a severe recession.

Precious Metals

Precious Metals Roadmap: What follows is more of an approach than a prediction. Gold remains a much safer play than silver, something I have said for years. Technically silver is flirting with a breakdown of major support at $27. If that low does not hold, a decline to the low-to-mid $20's is likely (something I said earlier this year when silver was near $50). I have no target for gold. The longer the US holds off quantitative easing and the ECB lets the sovereign debt crisis simmer without action, the bigger the potential drop in precious metals. Moreover, silver is likely to take a bigger hit than gold (percentage-wise) in a recession or global slowdown because silver is an industrial commodity and Chinese demand for industrial commodities is poised to plunge. Both gold and silver are more likely to be weaker earlier in the year as opposed to the second half given the Bernanke Fed does not look to launch QE3 any time soon. If the stock market and energy prices plunge in the first half of 2012, Bernanke will be more inclined to launch another QE program and that would be beneficial to precious metals.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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Taste of Chicago

  • Taste of Chicago will be chopped in half to a five-day event next summer, and the city's annual smorgasbord will be moved to the middle of July from its traditional late June start.

    The festival will run from July 11 to July 15 in Grant Park, according to a news release from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

  • Cultural Affairs officials said they would consider shortening the event in an attempt to move the Taste back toward profitability, and that the focus would remain on the food served by local restaurants in Grant Park, rather than on big name entertainers like Stevie Wonder who have appeared at Taste in years past.
Good call shortening the fest, moving it away from the 04 July week, and limiting the number of restaurants. But they still aren't charging admission or fencing off the area - bad call. We'll have to see how it all shakes out. At least the ashes and wreckage from the G-8/NATO summits will have had time to cool off.

XO Order Out

You can find it in the Automated Directive section of the Department Intranet or from home at the Department website. We're going to read the whole thing in short order, but here's something someone found just scanning the order:
  • Sergeants will be going to the academy next week to get 8 hours of training to do the work of the Watch Commander . . opps.. "District Station Supervisor".

    8 HOURS????????

So no more Desk Sergeants, but they want Sergeants to do Watch Commander work? And not at Captain's rate? We're sorry, but the PBPA ought to be fighting this and the FOP ought to be backing them. If the city can force people to do jobs that they aren't qualified for, well, let's just say that opens up all sorts of cans of worms in the future that really ought to stay closed. We have contracts for a reason.

Rumors Heat Up

That time of year:
  • This just overheard.
    True to his Management Style in New Jersey and New York, G-Mac, with the just given approval from Tiny-Dancer 9.5, is going to rotate at least 10 District Commanders and 5 Unit Commanders by the beginning of the New Year.
    He believes that no Commander should be in any one place too long. If your C.O. has been in place for three years or better say bye bye.

No idea if there's anything to it, but it helps to keep the bosses nervous.

Look at All the Savings

Has anyone been totaling up how much money is being saved by the lack of snow?
  • No expenditures on salt;
  • No snowplow OT;
  • No tearing up the streets, curbs, light poles, parked vehicles;
  • No extra maintenance/wear-and-tear on equipment;
  • No de-icing and associated costs at either airport;

Maybe they can apply this windfall to the pension shortages. Or send us a rebate.

Snickers Returns

  • Following a legal battle, a retired Chicago police officer is reunited with his dog in Iowa.

    Days after Jim Sak moved to Aurelia, Iowa, to be near his ailing mother, a meter reader reported Sak and his wife to city officials because their dog looked like a pit bull. Aurelia has a ban on all pit bulls.

    Snickers is a service dog. Sak suffered a stroke in 2008 and counts on his pet to keep him safe.

    He sued the town to get his dog back and won.

    Wednesday, Snickers was back home with his family.

Thanks to everyone who signed the petition and called Jim with expressions of support.

Update on Brazil, BRICs

In response to Brazil is World's 6th Largest Economy, Overtaking UK Earlier this Year. Can Brazil Overtake France by 2016? What about BRICs in General? I received a nice email from Felipe Fiel, an economist from Brazil working in the hedge fund industry for Fram Capital.

Felipe writes ...
Hi Mish, hope is all well with you. First of all I would like to congratulate you for your blog and outstanding contribution do financial observers. I´m an economist who lives in Brazil, working for the hedge fund industry.

I agree entirely with you about Brazil´s skepticism.

I would like to highlight that the way you show inflation and GDP might cause a distorted impression to your readers.

You show GDP growth quarter-over-quarter seasonally adjusted, without annualizing it, which is the norm for US viewers. It was running at almost 8% annualized growth before 2008 crises and even recently it grew at 3.2% in the 4 quarters before stagnating in 3Q.

For next year, even the most pessimistic projections see growth at 4.3% on average, which is more or less what is seen at GDP potential. However, I personally think we cannot growth at that rate without generating too much inflation.



Best,
Felipe Fiel
BRIC Decade Ends as Growth Peaked

According to Goldman Sachs, BRIC Decade Ends as Growth Peaked
Dec 28, 2011

In the past decade, mutual funds poured almost $70 billion into Brazil, Russia, India and China, stocks more than quadrupled gains in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and the economies grew four times faster than America’s.

Now Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), which coined the term BRIC, says the best is over for the largest emerging markets.

BRIC funds recorded $15 billion of outflows this year as the MSCI BRIC Index sank 24 percent, EPFR Global data show. The gauge, which beat the S&P 500 by 390 percentage points from November 2001 through September 2010, has trailed the measure for five straight quarters, the longest stretch since Goldman Sachs forecast the countries would join the U.S. and Japan as the top economies by 2050.

BRIC indexes may fall another 20 percent next year, buffeted by the liquidity squeeze stemming from Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, Arjuna Mahendran, the Singapore-based head of Asia investment strategy at HSBC Private Bank, which oversees about $499 billion, said in an interview. Nations such as Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey may overshadow the BRICS in the next five years as they expand from lower levels of growth, he said.

“The slowdown we’re seeing in the BRICs will continue for most of the first half,” Mahendran said. “Compared to the U.S., corporate profits haven’t been that good as companies face higher wages, higher interest rates and currency volatility, and at best, we’ll only start to see the effects of monetary policy loosening in the second half of 2012.”

2011 Losses

The BSE India Sensitive Index led declines among BRIC equity gauges this year, falling 23 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index also dropped 23 percent, while Russia’s Micex retreated 18 percent and Brazil’s Bovespa sank 16 percent. The 21-country MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF) lost 20 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent.
The time to warn about BRICs and emerging markets was a year ago, which I did, specifically in regards to China (but also with many references to trade surplus nations and commodity producers throughout the year).

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

"It's a Mistake To Pursue a United States of Europe" says German Supreme Court Justice in Spiegel Interview ; Interpretation of Interview from Saxo Bank Chief Economist

Those looking for a reason for a sinking Euro and falling stock markets today just may find the answer in a Spiegel Interview with German Constitutional Court Judge Udo Di Fabio who says "It's a Mistake To Pursue a United States of Europe".
SPIEGEL: Didn't the court's decision on the Lisbon Treaty in effect place strict limits on further European integration by banning the transfer of important political powers from Germany to the EU?

Di Fabio: The decision on the Lisbon Treaty pinpoints the sensitive areas, such as budgetary autonomy. Furthermore, in the euro-zone bailout ruling, issued on Sept. 7 of this year, the court made it clear once again that this particularly concerns the parliament's power of disposition over revenue and expenditure.

SPIEGEL: But this is precisely the aim of the fiscal union to control the debt crisis. If the national budget falls under the control of the European Commission, the next Constitutional Court veto will be just around the corner.

Di Fabio: Not necessarily. Since no politician really intends to transfer their power of disposition over the substance of the national budget at an EU level, there is no insurmountable obstacle.

SPIEGEL: Does it concern the substance when a Brussels fiscal commissioner says to the German parliament, the Bundestag: You're not allowed to pass this budget?

Di Fabio: If Brussels only more closely supervises whether the member states are adhering to the agreements that they have concluded, then this does not constitute an infringement on their identity. Anyone who voluntarily agrees to something has to accept that they will be checked to ensure that this contractual obligation is fulfilled. Such a veto could come from Karlsruhe, however, if there were a violation of the new debt brake (an amendment to Germany's constitution that requires the government to balance its budget each year by 2016).

SPIEGEL: The president of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg nonetheless recently said that he's not happy to hear that Karlsruhe wants to have the last word.

Di Fabio: I'm also unhappy to hear certain things, but I accept them.

SPIEGEL: How long can this really work, this coexistence of authorities to adjudicate in Europe?

Di Fabio: As long as we don't have a United States of Europe, we will continue to have a polity that has a certain network character.

SPIEGEL: Wouldn't it be easier to form a democratic United States of Europe with separation of powers?

Di Fabio: I think it is a mistake to pursue a United States of Europe model. There is no ideal solution on earth, nor is there one that dates back to the 19th century. The supposed universal remedy of a United States of Europe could cause even greater conflicts than the current union with its many weights and counterweights that allow for a balance.
Interpretation From Saxo Bank

Via email Steek Jakobsen, chief economist for Saxo Bank in Denmark writes ...
This was a very open and interesting interview. The “killer stuff” is in the late part of the interview. Here are my notes:

  • Di Fabio does not see Constitutional Court and Basic Law as Euro unfriendly, actually states the opposite
  • Euro-bonds are “illegal” in his view (p.5 top)
  • Wrong to pursue United States of Europe – you need intra- government coordination but also strong individual states – not one without the other
  • No state can save the world on its own!
  • Europe…a “security construction” – (the good old excuse for slow non-working EU)
  • EY SENTENCE (p.2 top) : “….. Anyone who voluntarily agrees to something has to accept they will be checked to ensure that this contractual obligation is fulfilled. Such a veto could come from Karlsruhe, however, were a violation of the new debt brake (an amendment to Germany’s constitution that requires the government to balance its budget each year by 2016!)

The last sentence – extremely critical – I must admit I did not know this. However, knowing this, Germany’s position makes sense! – They need “order” before anything and it also makes their compromise with France less “solid” as this exercise of buying time will end by 2012/13 – where they need to “structurally” get their budget down.

Germany looks to have weak growth in 2012 – and government is spending more money not tightening. However, Germany CAN’T stimulate when they need to be at ZERO deficit by 2016.

NOTE to ALL politicians – this is major, major, major statement – the new RULE is to BALANCE by LAW your fiscal imbalances.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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Le Monde: Greece in chaos

A departure from previous article these are from the bourgeois press but just as it has been announced that there will be no new elections in Greece in February its good to take stock of what is being reported in their press...

Elections will have to be aboloished it appears and with the new announcement by the KKE that they dont want state power it all fits into a neat Orwellian straightjacket: all are working for the IMF and the EU in their own neat way...

VN

Greece in chaos
Personally and collectively, the Greeks don’t understand and can’t cope with what’s happening now, let alone what will happen next. The welfare state is being swiftly and deliberately dismantled without any time to set up replacements
by Noëlle Burgi

“Who knows what tomorrow will bring?” people ask in Athens, Salonika and right across Greece. There’s a sense of collective imprisonment, individual uncertainty and impending catastrophe. Yet Greece has had a turbulent history, and the Greeks have always seen themselves as a gifted people, sturdy and accustomed to adversity. “There have always been difficult times, and we always made it through. But now, all hope has been taken from us,” said a small business owner.

While the austerity measures are piling up, an avalanche of laws, decrees and edicts is sweeping aside the social, economic and administrative frameworks. Yesterday’s reality is crumbling. As for tomorrow — who knows?

Greek citizens are subject to a Kafkaesque bureaucracy, with its incomprehensible, fluctuating regulations. Addressing colleagues, a civic employee in the Cyclades said: “People want to conform to the law, but we don’t know what to tell them, [the authorities] haven’t given us any details.” A man had to pay € 200 and present 13 papers and proofs of identity to renew his driving license. Salary cuts among public employees have disrupted the public sector. “When you call the police to alert them to a situation, they reply, ‘it’s your problem, you deal with it’,” said a retired engineer officer from the merchant navy. Tensions are rising. Reports show a big increase in domestic violence, theft and murder (1).

Salaries are falling (by 35-40% in some sectors) while new taxes are invented, some backdated to the beginning of the calendar year. Net incomes have fallen drastically, in many cases by 50% or more. Since the summer, a solidarity tax (1-2% of annual income) and an energy tax (calculated on the consumption of petrol and natural gas) have been levied. Further novelties include the lowering of the tax threshold from € 5,000 to € 2,000, and a property tax of € 0.5 to € 20 per square metre levied as part of electricity bills, payable in two or three instalments (failure to pay results in power cuts and penalties).

Since the start of November, pensioners and public and private employees cannot anticipate their monthly earnings. Many workers go without pay altogether. The state is reducing its workforce drastically as part of its restructuring programme. Between now and 2015, 120,000 public employees over the age of 53 have been earmarked for “semi-retirement”, the precursor to full mandatory retirement after 33 years of service, during which employees are obliged to stay at home, and only receive 60% of their basic salaries. Once fully retired, many public employees will be reduced to living on very little. A group of ex-railwaymen, aged 50 and above, said they used to earn between € 1,800 and € 2,000 a month, a relatively comfortable salary in Greece. They have now been posted to jobs as museum guards as part of a “voluntary transition” package (2) and their basic monthly income fluctuates between € 1,100 and € 1,300; semi-retirees are restricted to € 600. All are barred from taking on extra paid work to supplement their income — the penalty, immediate loss of revenue, is enforced.
’Insurance payments have stopped’

The loss of income is tearing society apart. Bills are not paid, consumption is down, stores are closing and unemployment rising. In May the official unemployment rate was 16.6% (10 points higher than in 2008) and 40% among the young. The actual rate is likely to be much higher. The social, economic and political crisis has shaken the national health service. Hospital and public health care centre budgets have been cut by 40% on average. More patients are admitted to the emergency room, others go to Doctors of the World health centres, and many choose to do without medical care altogether. People report being denied access to crucial medicine. One journalist said her father suffers from Parkinson’s disease: “His medication costs € 500 a month. The pharmacy told us it will stop supplying him, because insurance payments have stopped.”

Physical ailments (notably heart conditions) and mental illnesses are increasing at a worrying rate. Recent epidemiological studies have shown that heightened stress, exacerbated by high debt and prolonged unemployment, is generating “major depressive disorders, disruptions and generalised anxiety” (3), which account for a dramatic rise in suicides. According to unofficial figures discussed in parliament, the suicide rate increased by 25% from 2009 to 2010, with a further rise of 40% in the first half of 2011, compared to last year, according to health ministry sources. Figures published in The Lancet (4) reveal an alarming increase in prostitution, as well as infection rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (5). There are unprecedented numbers of homeless people, and they are no longer limited to alcoholics, drug addicts or the mentally ill. A recent study demonstrates that the middle class, the young and the moderately poor are now more likely to end up on the street (6).

The Greeks struggle to see a way out of what a social worker described as a return to a “barbaric” way of life. They feel abandoned and unable to cope. Strong family ties are buckling under the pressure of diminished incomes and a collapsing welfare state. Those who can leave, do so. The options for those remaining are limited. Some turn to the Church, which arranges soup kitchens and other social services. In Salonika, Father Stefanos Tolios of the Orthodox church, is swamped by desperate people looking for work. Residents of several cities (Volos, Patras, Heraklion, Athens, Corfu, Salonika) have set up community-based informal economies, based on local exchange systems. Families are bringing their elderly back from retirement homes, to recover the monthly charge of € 300-400.

No country could withstand this. Greece is worse equipped to deal with the social consequences of the austerity measures imposed with a “scientific cruelty” (7) by the national and transnational elites. Post-1945 Greece, with a weak state and clientelism, had neither the time nor means to build a resilient system of social protection. The existing safety nets are now tearing. “Everything is falling apart,” said Sotiris Lainas, a psychologist and coordinator of the Self Help Promotion Programme at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Salonika).
Who’s to blame?

The previous government, under George Papandreou, scrambled to conform to the demands of the “troika” — the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank — for instance by cutting 210 budget lines in the health ministry. No thought was given as to how the budget cuts would undermine the ability of essential (and viable) services to function, such as the day care provided by the Panhellenic Federation of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders. Thus the transnational forces, which for nearly 30 years have worked to erode the welfare state, have passed on the task to national enforcers, themselves longtime beneficiaries of a nepotic, inefficient, corrupt system.

Responsibility for the crisis has been shamelessly dumped upon the Greeks. Accused, but not tried, they have been pronounced guilty because of their association with their inept leaders. Certain sections of the population are exposed to popular fury: seen as a privileged caste, public employees are stigmatised; doctors and shopkeepers are all suspected of untruthful tax filings. But the people know that the system and their leaders are at the root of the rot. Knowledge is not power, though, and the nation is left wondering what to do next.

Patronage and corruption have historical roots. Greece has never enjoyed a modern state with a relatively autonomous bureaucracy, free from private interests, with the capacity to shape economic and social development. Nor has it had a strong civic identity. Foreign powers have imposed their preferences since independence in 1830 (8), when Greece was forcefully integrated into the world capitalist economy in a peripheral position, kept servile and buffeted by various great powers. History has superimposed an artificial political model on a fragmented society traditionally centred on local loyalties, the extended family and community values. As a result, the Greek political system has always been authoritarian and centralised, denying the separation of powers, local autonomy or real democracy (9) — fertile soil for corruption and patronage, which serve the interests and entrench the domination of the elites. The Greeks have resigned themselves to all this.

They are not naive or ignorant of their and their country’s shortcomings. But they are destitute and disempowered. What hope is there for a nation that has proved “fundamentally incapable of forming a political community” (10)? Even if it wanted to return to the pre-crisis days, “when we were living a lie”, as Lainas put it, Greece would be unable to do so. It has been hit too hard, as the repeated calls for order and control make clear. Polls initially favourable to the new government formed by Lucas Papademos, the former governor of the Greek Central Bank replacing Papandreou as prime minister, point to the belief among some Greeks that a technocratic administration might be preferable to the disgraced political class. This does not imply an adherence to the austerity measures, but rather a willingness to set matters right. For some, a strong foreign authority, mentioned by Mario Monti before he became Italy’s prime minister (11), might guarantee an honest and competent government acting in the interests of the country.

But everything points against it. Having seen off their worthless leaders, Greeks may not know who the enemy is any more. “There is no enemy to fight,” said Lainas: “You can’t fight what you can’t see. Their strength lies in abstract governments. Such as the EFSF [European Financial Stability Fund]. The enemy may be abstract, but the tragedy is real. They are stealing our lives, depriving us of a future.”

Rule by troika
by Serge Halimi

Former bankers Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti have taken over in Athens and Rome, exploiting the threat of bankruptcy and the fear of chaos. They are not apolitical technicians but men of the right, members of the Trilateral Commission that blamed western societies for being too democratic.

In November, the Franco-German directorate of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — the “troika” — were furious when the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, announced plans to hold a referendum. This, they said, would call into question an agreement reached in October to strengthen the economic policy that had brought the country to its knees. Summoned to Cannes for an interview during a summit that his country was too small to attend, kept waiting, and publicly upbraided by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy (who were responsible for exacerbating the crisis), Papandreou was forced to abandon the plan for a referendum and resign. His successor, a former vice-president of the ECB, promptly decided to include in the Athens government a far-right organisation banned since the Greek colonels lost power in 1974. (The troika expressed no views on this.)

The European project was supposed to secure prosperity, strengthen democracy in states formerly ruled by juntas (Greece, Spain, Portugal), and defuse “nationalism as a source of war”. But it is having the opposite effect, with drastic cuts, puppet governments at the call of the brokers, and renewed strife between nations. A young Spaniard voiced his anger at having to go to Berlin or Hamburg to find work: “We can’t go on being Germany’s slaves.” The Italians find the French president’s high and mighty attitude offensive and wonder, rightly, what exceptional talents might justify this. some Greeks are complaining about the “occupation” of Greece, with cartoons depicting the German chancellor in Nazi uniform.

For people in countries suffering under austerity measures, the history of Europe provides some outstanding examples. In some ways, recent events in Athens recall Czechoslovakia in 1968: the crushing of the Prague Spring and the removal of the Communist leader Alexander Dubcek. The troika has played the same part in reducing Greece to a protectorate as the Warsaw Pact did in Czechoslovakia, with Papandreou in the role of Dubcek, but a Dubcek who would never have dared to resist. The doctrine of limited sovereignty has been applied, though admittedly it is preferable and less immediately lethal to have its parameters set by rating agencies rather than by Russian tanks rolling over the borders.

Having crushed Greece and Italy, the EU and the IMF have now set their sights on Hungary and Spain.

European Bank-to-Bank Lending Mistrust Hits Second Consecutive High; ECB's LTRO Won't Stop Collateral Contagion

Bond action in the Eurozone has modestly picked up (yields steady or falling) since the ECB's 3-Year LTRO program - Long Term Refinance Operation. However, European banks still do not trust each other, not even for overnight lending.

Instead, banks park all available funds with the ECB, as noted by the Wall Street Journal in Deposits at ECB Hit Record High.
Use of the European Central Bank's overnight deposit facility hit the second all-time high in a row Tuesday as euro area banks increased the amount of cash they park at the central bank's safe haven, ECB data showed Wednesday.

Banks parked €452.034 billion ($589.72 billion) at the ECB, up from €411.813 billion the previous day. The high level reflects prevailing distrust among banks which prefer using the ECB's facility rather than lending to each other.

The increase in deposits follows the ECB's first-ever three-year liquidity tender last week in which it allocated nearly half a trillion euros to more than 500 banks.

The ECB also said banks borrowed €6.225 billion via its overnight lending facility, up from €6.131 billion the previous day. When markets are functioning properly, banks use the facility to the tune of a few hundred million euros overnight.
The "first-ever three-year liquidity tender" offer cited by the Wall Street Journal is the 3-year LTRO that I mentioned at the top.

ECB's LTRO Won't Stop Collateral Contagion

Gordon Long put out an outstanding report on his website on why the ECB's LTRO Won't Stop Collateral Contagion. I picked up the link from Zero Hedge. Following are a few snips:
Here is the stark reality of what forced the ECB to offer unprecedented three year loans at absurd rates and most alarmingly, the acceptance of collateral that no other financial institutions will accept. The ECB has sacrificed its balance sheet in yet another EU "kick at the can".

1. COLLATERAL CONTAGION: There is a cascading Collateral Contagion crisis in which secured lending, based on sound assets, has replaced unsecured lending based on future expected cash flows.

2. WHOLESALE LENDING: Wholesale bank lending, which is a unique cornerstone of European banking, has completely frozen since the failure of Dexia and US Money Market Funds will no longer risk short term capital having learned their lesson in 2008.

3. BANK RUNS: Bank Runs are quietly and insidiously occurring throughout the peripheral EU countries as corporate and private depositors seek safe havens for their cash holdings.
...
WHOLESALE LENDING

There are approximately $55T of banking assets in the EU. This compares to only $13T in the US. Bank Assets in the EU are 4 times as large as the US.

In the US, debt held by the bank is smaller because retail deposits are a primary source of funds. EU banks use wholesale lending and, as a consequence, the debt held by banks is closer to 80% versus less than 20% by US banks.

Wholesale bank lending in the EU approximates $30T versus only $3T in the US, a 10 X differential.

Wholesale lending is fundamentally borrowing from money market funds and other very short term, unsecured instruments. The banks borrow short and lend long. It all works until short term money gets scarce or expensive. Both have occurred in the EU and this recently placed DEXIA into bankruptcy, forcing them to be taken over by the Belgium and French governments. The unsecured bond market fundamentally closed in the EU in Q3 2011, as fears mounted that an EU solution was not forthcoming.

Assuming $30T of loans is spread over three years, EU banks have a requirement for $800B / Month of rollover financing for wholesale lending outstanding.

Where is this money going to come from? No one is waiting around to find out as there will be cascading counterparty failures soon surfacing. Banking money in Europe is fleeing to custodial and official accounts of the ECB, the US Federal Reserve and any other central Bank willing to accept their cash.
Excerpts do not do the article full justice. It's well worth a read in entirety.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Crime is Down...

Crime is down....

Crime is down....

Crime is down...must keep repeating:
  • Two people were killed and five others wounded when shots rang out at a fast-food restaurant in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side this evening, authorities said.

    The gunman had gotten into an argument with a person outside the Church's Chicken restaurant near 66th and Halsted streets, then chased the person inside and opened fire about 6:5

    Surveillance video appears to show the intended target trying to run away through a crowd of people, police said. No one was in custody, police said.
Nothing short of carpet bombing will ever solve Englewood.

Sears

  • Gov. Pat Quinn called Sears’ store closings regrettable but said he wasn’t second-guessing the legislation he signed in to law days ago giving the Hoffman Estates-based corporation a series of tax incentives to keep its headquarters in Illinois.

    “We expect the headquarters to stay here and the jobs to be here, that’s what the agreement is all about,” Quinn told reporters Tuesday morning after an unrelated event at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. “The fact they have to close some stores around the country, that isn’t good news, but it doesn’t directly affect this agreement.

"directly" in that the corporate structure will remain exactly as it is, despite the downsizing of over 100 stores across the country? Because everyone knows corporate America behaves in exactly the opposite way Economics 101 tells us they must to stay solvent.

Opposite Ends

A bit of sporting humor today. Five Bears were named to the Pro Bowl:
  • Matt Forte's season ended Tuesday when the Bears placed him on injured reserve but the day brought some good news as the running back was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.

    Forte becomes the first offensive player general manager Jerry Angelo has drafted in 10 years to be selected to the all-star game, although he can't play because he was placed on IR with a sprained MCL in his right knee. Angelo now has selected eight Pro Bowl players in the last nine drafts.

    Forte was one of five Bears players named to the NFC squad, joining linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, cornerback Charles Tillman and special teamer Corey Graham. Like Forte, Tillman and Graham are first-time selections.

Of course, the Bears are in the midst of a 5 game losing streak and are headed home after Sunday's final regular season game. We're sure that each of these selections would give it all up for a healthy lineup and a shot a the playoffs.

In the meantime, on the other side of town:

  • It took the Blackhawks 36 games to reach the 50-point mark. The last time they did it in 36 contests was in 2009, the season that ended with the Hawks hoisting the Stanley Cup.

    Let the comparisons begin.
OK, they're going to go far in the playoffs this year. How far? Lord knows....Lord Stanley that is.

Japan Industrial Production Declines 2.6%, 3rd Quarter Capital Spending Drops 9.8%, Corporate Sentiment Drops to Minus 4; Powder Keg Waiting for a Spark

A torrent of bad news hit Japan in November. Please consider some details from the Bloomberg article Japan Factory Output Falls on Global Slump

  • Factory output fell 2.6 percent from October
  • Exports fell for the second straight month
  • Capital spending in the third quarter dropped 9.8 percent
  • The Bank of Japan Tankan quarterly index of corporate sentiment fell to minus 4 this month. A negative figure indicates that pessimists outnumber optimists

Japan blames this mess on a strong Yen and Thailand’s worst flooding in almost 70 years. The flooding crippled the output in Southeast Asia of Japanese companies such as Sony Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Japan created four separate "supplementary budgets" totaling of 20 trillion yen ($257 billion) to deal with the the earthquake and tsunami. In 2012, Japan will create a "separate budget" for reconstruction.

However, no matter how many piles spending is split into, Japanese deficit spending cannot be hidden.

Japan's problems don't stop there. Europe is Japan's third largest export market, and Europe is a basket case. Europe will remain a basket case if Eurozone austerity measures are even modestly implemented.

Land of the Rising Debt

Pater Tenebrarum had some excellent charts and commentary in his post Land of the Rising Debt
Government spending does not 'spur growth'. If it did, Japan would have been the world's growth engine for the past two decades. In reality, every cent the government spends must be taken from the private sector and therefore can no longer be spent or invested by it. We can see what the government's spending achieves (not much) – what we cannot see is what would have been achieved had the government left well enough alone and the private sector had saved, spent and invested instead. This is the 'broken window effect' – one must not only consider the obvious economic effects of a policy, but also the 'unseen' ones. Government spending is a burden, not a boon.

Like its counterparts in Europe, Japan's government tries to get its house in order not by reducing spending – apparently a completely taboo subject in Japan – but by raising taxes. This will predictably - just as it does in Europe - double the burden on the economy. Since these tax hikes are immensely unpopular in Japan, it is not necessarily likely that they will happen. Moreover, there may be no more time to take effective countermeasures against the growing debt load: the death spiral may well begin before such measures can be implemented and take effect.

Not only is Japan's debt-to-GDP ratio uncomfortably high, its tax revenues continue to decline precipitously as a percentage of government spending.



click on chart for sharper image

In such a situation, the level of interest rates becomes an ever growing concern. Right now, Japan's interest rates remain among the very lowest in the world. And yet, in spite of near record low interest rates, the percentage of tax revenue the government must spend on interest expenses is increasing fast.
Powder Keg Waiting for a Spark

The pertinent point is not the sorry state of affairs including a debt-to-GDP ratio of 220%, but rather when it matters. So far Japan has avoided printing on the scale of the Bernanke Fed, but one has to wonder how long that can continue in spite of Japan's dire worst in the industrialized-world demographics.


Tenebrarum points out "At the moment, JGB's trade like 'risk free' debt, in spite of the fact that Japan has lost its 'AAA' rating long ago and has been downgraded again this year, with further downgrades likely. Should the percentage of foreign ownership of JGB's rise significantly, the probability of a 'non-linear' debt market convulsion will rise commensurately. The Japanese government can 'financially repress' its own institutions, but not foreign investors."

"It seems rather like a powder keg waiting for a spark".

Indeed! Moreover, Japan's efforts to kick the can down the road perpetually issuing short-term debt that will need to be rolled over at some point insures the explosion will be massive once the debt-bomb finally ignites. Please see Japan Seeks to Market Record 145 Trillion Yen Bonds in 2012; Kicking the Can Japanese Style for a brief analysis.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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