When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do? -- John Maynard Keynes

Saturday, May 31, 2014

New York Times Internal Report, Dire Digital Picture, Too Late in the Game?

Exclusive: New York Times Internal Report Painted Dire Digital Picture: "The Times report was finalized March 24 by a committee of digitally oriented staffers led by reporter A.G. Sulzberger. His father, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, fired Executive Editor Jill Abramson ... a decision that doesn’t appear immediately related to the paper’s digital weaknesses. The report largely ignores legacy competitors and focuses on the new wave of digital companies, including First Look Media, Vox, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and BuzzFeed. “They are ahead of us in building impressive support systems for digital journalists, and that gap will grow unless we quickly improve our capabilities,” the report warns. “Meanwhile, our journalism advantage is shrinking as more of these upstarts expand their newsrooms.” "We are not moving with enough urgency,” it says...." (read more at the link above)

It is very, very late in the game for the New York Times to try to catch up. Most of old media is dead or dying.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Failed Reforms, Massive Tax Hikes

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Reverses Course, Now in Support of Massive Tax Hikes and Non-Reforms; Approval Rating Plunges: "....That [Rahm] Emanuel failed to deliver is hardly surprising. Promises of reform are nearly always lies. Sadly, Emanuel was actually the better of the two choices in the last election. My fear is the choices in the next election will be even worse. Unless and until someone is willing and able to actually stand up to Chicago unions, more of the same kind of lies and backtracking is in store. Ultimately, Chicago's financial mess blows up in bankruptcy court, just as happened in Detroit. Certainly the city of Chicago looks better than Detroit and has far better services, pay, and demographics. Chicago is a beautiful, vibrant-appearing city. Yet, outward appearances are deceiving. beneath the surface things are not so pretty. Chicago is on the verge of bankruptcy unless there is serious pension and work-rule reform now, not four elections from now...." (read more at the link above)


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Federal Reserve Policy, Malinvestment, the Economy

Unintended Consequences?

How Malinvestment Poisons the Entire Economy Washington's Blog: "Malinvestment–the systemic consequence of the Federal Reserve’s policies of near-zero interest rates and abundant credit–doesn’t just inflate destruction asset bubbles: it poisons productive assets and the entire economy. Malinvestments arise when credit is cheap and abundant, as it costs speculators very little to borrow money for gambles, and they can in essence buy lottery tickets in the asset bubble of the day without having any skin in the game, i.e. without having to put any of their own money at risk...."


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg, and How America Has Changed

Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden and His New Book, No Place to Hide: "What do you think would happen if Snowden were to fly from, say, Moscow to New York today?

Glenn Greenwald: "I think it would be a huge media circus, and then he would be instantly arrested and probably rendered incommunicado for the entire duration of his judicial proceeding on the grounds that he has classified information that could damage the United States. The prosecutors would say he would have to be kept away from media. He would just be disappeared. Rendered completely invisible and mute. When Daniel Ellsberg was on trial [for leaking the Pentagon Papers], he was allowed to speak out and defend himself. Which is why Ellsberg wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post last July saying Snowden was absolutely right to flee, because America has changed so drastically. Snowden would never be released on bail and would never get a fair trial."


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Glenn Greenwald on Mainstream Media, Blogging, and Editorial Independence

Glenn Greenwald on the mainstream media and his editorial independence:

Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden and His New Book, No Place to Hide:

"So that goes with your concept of adversarial journalism—and the fact that you're sitting here on your porch in Rio, not having lunch with anybody in D.C. right now, not having lunch with anybody in Manhattan.And I don't want to be, either! This is why I'm so optimistic about the future of journalism, based on what the Internet has permitted. I do think it is a huge change that the journalists who have been at the center of what everybody already knows is the biggest story of the year, if not the decade—meaning myself and Laura—didn't go to journalism school. We didn't intern at The New York Times or The Washington Post.We didn't go to work for one of the five or six big media corporations that impose the standard set of orthodoxies about how you write and think. And we didn't attach ourselves to those institutions. We didn't make ourselves dependent upon the standard range of sources. And then, once I was in the position where people wanted to hire, basically, my blog, I was able to negotiate full editorial independence. So I've been able to forge my career, not only without depending on any of those processes and those people, but staying as far away from them as I can. I have zero incentive to avoid alienating them."


Monday, May 26, 2014

Glenn Greenwald, MSNBC, Mika Brzezinski, June 2013 video

Glenn Greenwald Takes MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, to Task for Using NSA WH Talking Points 06102013 - YouTube:

A look back to June, 2013:
"Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who broke the stories on the NSA's phone and internet surveillance programs last week and helped reveal on Sunday the identity of Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who is behind the NSA leaks, speaks with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski about his interviews with Snowden. Published on June 10, 2013"


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Glenn Greenwald on the Dogs in His Life

Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden and His New Book, No Place to Hide:
Question:  "The dogs seem to play a huge role in your life?

Answer: "One of the reasons I love dogs is because I think they perceive the world, things in the world, that we as humans don't perceive. I think there's something kind of just spiritual about it. They're just completely in the experience. And so many times, we as human beings remove ourselves from the present by reliving the past or worrying about a future, neither of which we can control, and we destroy our present, and we lose all the power that we have, the ability to just be. That is really what I learn from dogs. That's the thing that I would like to apprehend most about dogness.

Q. Do you sometimes kick yourself and say, like, "Let's get more 'dog' right now"?
A. Yeah, I do. I do. I mean, I really do."


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Glenn Greenwald, Privacy, The Right To Be Let Alone

‘No Place to Hide,’ by Glenn Greenwald - NYTimes.com:When Mr. Greenwald turns his fervor to the issue of surveillance and its implications for ordinary citizens’ civil liberties, he is far more credible. Sometimes eloquent. He places the N.S.A.’s current activities in historical perspective with the F.B.I.’s Cointelpro program to target political groups and individuals, begun in 1956 and ended in 1971. And he delivers a fierce argument in defense of the right of privacy, quoting the Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous dissent in the 1928 case Olmstead v. United States, of the founding fathers’ efforts “to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations.” The makers of our Constitution, Brandeis argued, conferred “the right to be let alone.”


Friday, May 23, 2014

Glenn Greenwald on Hillary Clinton for President

Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden and His New Book, No Place to Hide:
How do you feel about the early presidential jockeying?

Glenn Greenwald: "Hillary is banal, corrupted, drained of vibrancy and passion. I mean, she's been around forever, the Clinton circle. She's a f__king hawk and like a neocon, practically. She's surrounded by all these sleazy money types who are just corrupting everything everywhere. But she's going to be the first female president, and women in America are going to be completely invested in her candidacy. Opposition to her is going to be depicted as misogynistic, like opposition to Obama has been depicted as racist. It's going to be this completely symbolic messaging that's going to overshadow the fact that she'll do nothing but continue everything in pursuit of her own power. They'll probably have a gay person after Hillary who's just going to do the same thing. I hope this happens so badly, because I think it'll be so instructive in that regard. It'll prove the point. Americans love to mock the idea of monarchy, and yet we have our own de facto monarchy. I think what these leaks did is, they demonstrated that there really is this government that just is the kind of permanent government that doesn't get affected by election choices and that isn't in any way accountable to any sort of democratic transparency and just creates its own world off on its own."


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Glenn Greenwald on Being Gay, Adversarial

Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden and His New Book, No Place to Hide: "Was there a formative moment in your childhood that might've cast you in the adversarial role?

Glenn Greenwald: "Being gay was a big part of that process. I grew up gay in the '70s and '80s, when things were obviously much different than they are now. There was no gay culture for a gay teen in an American suburb, at all. The overriding message was there's something wrong with you, there's something inside of you that's just wrong. It's broken. It's bad. It's diseased. And so it's a pretty harsh message to internalize when you're, like, 11. It leaves you with three different options. One is you just keep internalizing it and keep internalizing it and tell yourself that you're this horrible, diseased, broken person. And that's why gay teens kill themselves. Another strategy is to say I'm going to try and convince you that you're wrong, right? I'm going to show you that I'm actually really normal in every other way. That's the gay lobby in D.C., who are just, like, so intent on proving that they're exactly like straight people in every single other way, so please accept us. And then, I think, a third strategy is just to say, You know what? Go f__k yourself. I'm going to be the one to impose judgments on you, and let's examine the propriety of your behavior instead."


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Steve Wynn, George Clooney Is Wrong, I Did Not Call Obama That (video)

Wynn: Clooney's Wrong, I Didn't Call Obama That: Video - Bloomberg:
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Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Steve Wynn talks about George Clooney and celebrity culture. He speaks with Bloomberg Television's Stephanie Ruhle. (Source: Bloomberg, May2)


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Wall Street Jobs Are Disappearing (video)

Here's Why Wall Street Jobs Are Disappearing Fast: Video - Bloomberg:
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Michael McKee reports on the decline in bank jobs on Bloomberg Television's “In The Loop.” (Source: May 6, 2014, Bloomberg)


Monday, May 19, 2014

Corporate Tax Havens (video)

Corporate Tax Havens: Work Here, Pay Taxes There: Video - Bloomberg:
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Bloomberg’s Zachary Mider and Paul Levy, founder & managing director at JLL Partners, discuss corporations shifting their business addresses to countries with more tolerable tax rates on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” (May 5, 2014)


Sunday, May 18, 2014

China, Weak Growth Momentum (video)

China Faces `Relatively Weak' Growth Momentum: Yao: Video - Bloomberg:
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Yao Wei, China economist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong, talks about the world's second-largest economy. China's manufacturing contracted in April, according to a private survey, signaling the risk of a deeper slowdown in an economy already projected to expand this year at the slowest pace since 1990. Yao speaks with on Bloomberg Television's "On the Move." (Source: Bloomberg, May 5)


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Steve Wynn says US Government Less Business-Friendly Than China (video)

(Allow video to load after clicking play)Wynn: U.S. Less Friendly to Business Than China: Video - Bloomberg: "Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Steve Wynn talks about business relations with the U.S. government. He speaks with Bloomberg Television's Stephanie Ruhle. (Source: Bloomberg, May 2)"


Friday, May 16, 2014

$13 Billion Aircraft Carrier, Costliest Ship Ever (video)

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$13B Carrier: Aboard America's Costliest Ship Ever: Video - Bloomberg: "One big-ticket item in the Defense Department's budget is the new aircraft carrier being built in Virginia -- the USS Gerald R. Ford. It's nearly $13 billion. Bloomberg's Peter Cook went aboard to find out what taxpayers are getting for their money. (Source: Bloomberg May 2, 2014)"


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ian Bremmer, Ukraine Crisis, Obama Failure (video)

Ian Bremmer on Ukraine Crisis: Video - Bloomberg:
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On “Charlie Rose,” a look at the crisis in Ukraine - Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm. (Source: Bloomberg. May 5) - He says Ukraine is an Obama Policy Failure


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More Than A Million Kids Doing Nothing After Graduation in US

source: Economic Policy Institute analysis

For More Than One Million Kids, Graduating High School is Followed by… Nothing - Real Time Economics - WSJ: "More than 1 million kids who have graduated high school in recent years have begun the pursuit of nothing: they are not working, not looking for work, and not enrolled in any further education. An additional 600,000, though searching for work, remain unemployed...."


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Collapse of the United States, the Detroit Denial Syndrome

This is not rocket science, and it is happening now, right around you--think Detroit is an anomaly? Washington (neither Democrats nor Republicans) does NOT want you to pay any attention to what happened in Detroit -- I call it the Detroit Denial Syndrome -- or what is happening to the nation as a whole:

This Is How Empires Collapse Washington's Blog: "This is how empires collapse: one complicit participant at a time. Before an empire collapses, it first erodes from within. The collapse may appear sudden, but the processes of internal rot hollowed out the resilience, resolve, purpose and vitality of the empire long before its final implosion. What are these processes of internal rot? Here are a few of the most pervasive and destructive forces of internal corrosion: 1. Each institution within the system loses sight of its original purpose of serving the populace and becomes self-serving....reforms and innovations that might salvage the institution are shelved or buried....7. These dynamics of eroding accountability, effectiveness and purpose lead to systemic diminishing returns. Each failing institution now needs more money to sustain its operations, as inefficiencies, corruption and incompetence reduce output while dramatically raising costs [think of the US government, the federal budget and bureaucracy, the US health care system, etc.] ... 8. Incompetence is rewarded and competence punished. The classic example of this was cronies and con-artists are elevated to leadership roles to reward loyalty and the ability to mask the rot with good PR. [Barack Obama appoints Susan Rice as National Security Advisor after her obedient Benghazi talking points performance; and, of course, the classic example, George Bush: "Good job, Brownie"]. Serving the common good is set aside as sycophancy (obedient flattery) to incompetent leaders is rewarded and real competence is punished as a threat to the self-serving leadership. 9. As returns diminish and costs rise, systemic fragility increases...." (read more at the link above) 


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fed Worry About a Stagnant US Economy (video)

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Should the Fed Worry About a Stagnant U.S. Economy?: Video - Bloomberg: "Brown University associate professor Gauti Eggertsson discusses the Federal Reserve’s approach to the U.S. economy on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”(April 30)"


Friday, May 9, 2014

US Tech Opposes FCC Wheeler's Plan to Kill the Internet

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington D.C. 20554

May 7, 2014

Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Reilly:

We write to express our support for a free and open internet. Over the past twenty years, American innovators have created countless Internet-based applications, content offerings, and services that are used around the world. These innovations have created enormous value for Internet users, fueled economic growth, and made our Internet companies global leaders. The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination. An open Internet has also been a platform for free speech and opportunity for billions of users.

The Commission’s long-standing commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open Internet are a central reason why the Internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth.

According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them. If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet.

Instead of permitting individualized bargaining and discrimination, the Commission’s rules should protect users and Internet companies on both fixed and mobile platforms against blocking, discrim- ination, and paid prioritization, and should make the market for Internet services more transparent. The rules should provide certainty to all market participants and keep the costs of regulation low.

Such rules are essential for the future of the Internet. This Commission should take the necessary steps to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce so that America continues to lead the world in technology markets.

Level 3
Vonage Holdings Corp.
Yahoo! Inc.

source: http://cdn1.vox-cdn.com/assets/4422119/letter_to_FCC.pdf


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Illinois the Worst State, Residents Want Out

US map of State Residents' Desire to Move to a Different State
source: Gallup

Poor Illinois, almost nobody wants to live there--high taxes (and getting higher), cities and state budgets with unfunded public pension liabilities in the billions, Democratic Party-Big Union corruption and policies, gang culture pathologies, bad schools, political malfeasance . . . (and the list goes on)

Gallup"Every state has at least some residents who are looking for greener pastures, but nowhere is the desire to move more prevalent than in Illinois...."

Even the Obamas have indicated they are NOT moving back to Illinois after his term is up. Who can blame them?


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Vested Interests, Washington DC, Political Poison

The Political Poison of Vested Interests Washington's Blog: "We must add a second definitive dynamic: protecting vested interests. There are many ways of describing powerful constituencies with an enormous stake in maintaining the Status Quo–vested or entrenched interests, for example–but the key characteristic is the enormous political pain that these groups can inflict on self-serving politicos.Once confronted with an aroused vested interest–public union, cartel, corporatocracy, Power Elite, etc.–politicos cave in and do what is politically expedient: avoid any real reform and simply shovel more money into the gaping maw of diminishing returns."


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The US is an Oligarchy

Democratic Republic? The US is an oligarchy - Report by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern Universities indicates that US political system serves special interest organisations, instead of voters:

"The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded. The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system. After sifting through nearly 1,800 US policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile) and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the United States is dominated by its economic elite." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10769041/The-US-is-an-oligarchy-study-concludes.html

Has the West fallen prey to crony capitalism? - Telegraph: " . . . A new study by researchers at Princeton and Northwestern universities, which claims to demonstrate that public policy in the US is unduly influenced by the rich and powerful, rather than representing the wishes of the majority – a statement of the blindingly obvious if ever there was one – is just the latest example of this kind of world view, building as it does on the generally rave reviews for a new book by the French economist, Thomas Piketty, showing that capital accumulation has been growing at a much faster rate than wages and the economy as a whole...."


Monday, May 5, 2014

The QE Delusions of the Federal Reserve

QE delusions abound at the Federal Reserve -- the wealth effect concept is deeply flawed --

Hoisington: On the Fed and the Wealth Effect | The Big Picture: " . . . Lacy Hunt and Van Hoisington of Hoisington Investment have the temerity to point out that since the Great Recession officially ended in 2009, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has been consistently overoptimistic in its projections of US growth. They simply expected QE to be more stimulative than it has been, to the tune of about 6% over the past four years – a total of about $1 trillion that never materialized. Given that dismal track record, our authors ask why we should believe the Fed’s prediction of 2.9% real GDP growth for 2014 and 3.4% for 2015 – particularly with QE being tapered into nonexistence. A big part of the reason the Fed has been so steadily wrong, say Lacy and Van, is its overreliance on the so-called “wealth effect,” which posits that an increase in consumer wealth – through higher stock prices or home values, for instance – will lead to increased consumer spending.The wealth effect has been both a justification for quantitative easing and a root cause of consistent overly optimistic growth expectations by the FOMC. The research cited below suggests that the concept of a wealth effect is in fact deeply flawed. It is unfortunate that the FOMC has relied on this flawed concept to experiment with over $3 trillion in asset purchases and continues to use it as the basis for what we believe are overly optimistic growth expectations. The effect isn’t completely absent, say the authors, but their research suggests that it may be five to ten times weaker than the Fed assumes ...." (read more at the link above)

But of course, Goldman Sachs, and Wall Street generally, are very glad that the Federal Reserve actually believes in its delusional wealth effect assumptions! It is the rest of us that suffer the consequences (intended, unintended, or otherwise) of that misguided policy.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

New Home Sales Plunge, Experts Consensus Wrong Again

Sales are 14.5 percent below the revised February rate of 449,000
Sales are 13.3 percent below the March 2013 estimate of 443,000
Supply is 6.0 months at the current sales rate
(source: infra and http://www.census.gov/construction/nrs/pdf/newressales.pdf )

Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank: "Consensus is looking for 0.5% to 0.8% positive GDP from housing. Pity the opposite is happening ... and that on a day when 100% of economists in recent survey by Jim Bianco see US rates higher in six months! Yes, 100%." (source: infra)

Mike Mish Shedlock: "If sales decline was weather related, then why were sales up in the Northeast? I suggest the Fed managed to blow another housing bubble, especially in California and the West where sales are down the most. With rising rates, people are priced out of the market." Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2014/04/new-home-sales-plunge-145-its-not.html#ZQoWOVmzOPL1lHyk.99


Saturday, May 3, 2014

9.1 Million US Homes Underwater, a Silver Lining

A silver lining in the real estate market?

9.1 Million U.S. Homes Still 'Underwater', Down 26 Percent - WORLD PROPERTY CHANNEL Global News Center: "According to RealtyTrac's latest U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report for the first quarter of 2014, 9.1 million U.S. residential properties were seriously underwater -- where the combined loan amount secured by the property is at least 25 percent higher than the property's estimated market value -- representing 17 percent of all properties with a mortgage in the first quarter.
17 Percent of U.S. Properties Seriously Underwater, Down From 26 Percent Year Ago
9.9 Million Properties With 50 Percent Equity or More, Up From 9.1 Million in Q4 2013
35 Percent of Residential Properties in Foreclosure Process With Positive Equity ..."


Friday, May 2, 2014

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Still "Doesn't Get It"

Tom, nobody wants your stinkin' proposal for internet "fast lanes" -- Obama should have never appointed a lobbyist as FCC Chairman--he's clueless, tone-deaf, or deeply compromised by the special interests he once represented --

POLITICO Morning Tech - POLITICO.com: "The FCC Chairman continued the one-man show in defense of his net neutrality [sic] proposal in California Wednesday, but the groups first opposed to the now week-old plan are still unhappy. “Tom Wheeler still doesn’t get it. People aren’t flooding his phone lines and filling his in-box because they’re confused about his proposal,” Free Press CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “They understand all too well that his plan would create a pay-to-prioritize Internet with fast lanes for the few.” ... The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is blasting an email to their membership today (nearly 1 million people) reviving a 2007 campaign forum in which the president promised to make sure his FCC backs net neutrality. Wheeler’s proposal undermines Obama’s promise, PCCC argues. Full video and petition pitch here: http://bit.ly/R1JD5Q

You wonder how people like Tom Wheeler ever get to these kinds of positions of power in DC -- it tells us more than we want to know about the sad state of the US government and the influence of money in politics.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

China to overtake USA as World's Largest Economy this Year

America in Decline. China Rising. 

How's your Mandarin? Chinese Simplified or Traditional?

Daily chart: Crowning the dragon | The Economist: "UNTIL 1890 China was the world’s largest economy, before America surpassed it. By the end of 2014 China is on track to reclaim its crown.... New data released on April 30th from the International Comparison Programme, a part of the UN, calculated the cost of living in 199 countries in 2011. On this basis, China’s PPP exchange rate is now higher than economists had previously estimated using data from the previous survey in 2005: a whopping 20% higher. So China, which had been forecast to overtake America in 2019 by the IMF, will be crowned the world's pre-eminent country by the end of this year according to The Economist’s calculations. The American Century ends, and the Pacific Century begins."

The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects