Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Day in History: July 31

Really not much new or interesting in the world of finance and markets today and thus we will direct our energies today to something a little more interesting and worthy of thought..

As regular readers know, we enjoy introducing history into our posts because everything is interconnected-- past.. present.. future..   There was a world in existence before each of us was born and the people and events of the 'Then' affect us in the 'Now' even if in small or non-noticeable ways.

Admittedly not very much occurred in history on this date that we found particularly interesting except for this one nugget...

On July 31, 1790, the first U.S. patent is issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. (photo of potash at top of page)

But that in itself is not vital to know or remember.   Its the issuance of the patent that matters.

Patents are the lifeblood of the protection of intellectual property and thus provide the legal protections which allow great minds to create/invent products and ideas.
~ patent photo of a shoe

Without them, barely anything gets invented or developed--  it just wouldn't be worth the time to a Thomas Edison or a Henry Ford to build new machines or technologies.  Anyone could just steal an idea or creation wholesale and make it 100% theirs without any credit or money going to the original inventor.

Patents are also the lifeblood of capitalism and what makes a national economy strong.   And there was a time when an inventor could acquire a patent within months.  The original US Patent statute was put into law on April 10, 1790 and Hopkins received his patent about 105 days later.

Now to receive a US Patent, you should expect to wait years and accrue many costs including patent attorney fees, a patent fee and maintenance fees as you wait and wait for approval...

Its hard to implement new products into the marketplace when an inventor has to wait years simply to receive the legal protections against intellectual or physical piracy, much less begin to turn a profit on such invention.

And of course, getting a patent to be honored internationally is a whole different bowl of headaches...
People like to ask, in retrospect what made America great?

Was it the Constitution?  Freedom... Liberty?  etc..

All important and valuable things definitely... but that isn't it..

It was people.. specifically the spirit of the Individual.  That's what made the US grow from a fledgling group of newly freed colonies to the large, prosperous nation we are today.

What exactly do we mean?  Aren't we still great?

Well.. let's compare/contrast a little bit...

The stifling of individual invention and creativity via the long drawn-out patent process today vs in the past is one example.  Here's another:  There was a time in this country, if one looked for work and there were jobs to be had, he/she simply inquired, was told the salary and if agreed, was virtually hired on the spot.
~ "Yeah, I know.. spinning plates has nothing to do with the job I am applying for but my possible boss wanted to see if I could do this before he'd look at my resume.."

In today's society it rarely ever occurs.  Even lowly positions like waitress, custodian or waste pick-up require long applications to be filled with background checks, drug testing and every other stall & delay tactic an employer can think of so to make their subservient job seem important to keep.

In other words, there used to be greater mobility and freedom for the Individual.  He/she didn't like their job.. just quit and a new job was relatively easy to acquire.

Today, its set up where its so difficult to get hired even when jobs were aplenty, that the only way to have any semblance of mobility is to get hired for the new job first, then leave the wretched job you really wanted to quit months prior...

We've become a regulated society..everything from individual movement to the ability to create new ideas and businesses..   everything regulated but the one thing that desperately needs it.. Wall St.

As we've written before, history is an amazing thing... Often the events we think are important, end up forgotten and the 'insignificant' end up developing a future relevancy, even if for no other reason than to reflect how good things were compared to the present.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Buy on Rumor; Sell on Truth

So we look at the Dow today.. its pretty much in a holding pattern --  down -2 pts and still at over 13,000... yawnn~

All the greedy and soulless waiting to see what big announcements will be coming from the Fed and/or ECB about more stimulus, etc...  old, tiring news we know..

This all would be so comical and not worthy of any attention paid if not for the fact that these financial elites-- from central bankers to investors affect and impact the daily economy of rest of the world (usually for the worst).

For instance, many people naively think the 'Arab Spring' of 2011 was based on people wanting freedom from oppression. Freedom was at most a by-product.  It was more a result of food prices jumping 200-300% by early Spring in some regions of the world within a couple months of Bernanke starting up QE2.

As the dollar weakened (which is all these Fed policies do), more money was required by US farmers to sell their food to make up the shortfall in value, and through the process of distribution, everyone takes their proverbial two pounds of flesh.

Remember-- everything economically is inter-connected..

So by the time the wheat, corn, etc hit markets in places like Egypt, Algeria, etc, it became too expensive for many people in that region of the world to afford.  The average Egyptian makes equivalent to $2 US dollars/day..  So what's a person to do-- quietly starve?
So as we said, the sludge of the earth- Investors are waiting for the results of the meetings during the latter part of the week.   And unless the news (or declarative lie) is phenomenal, expect a big selloff.

If this behavior sounds confusing to you, simply think about a child... a little boy or girl with a yet undeveloped mind who can't wait for Christmas morning because he/she believes and expects a new bright red bike to be under the tree with a fun bell attached to one of the handle bars...

Then the child awakes, runs down the stairs and finds.... no bike.   It was just something the parents teased and pretended they were going to buy (even though parents knew they couldn't afford a bike) so the child would stop screaming at top of lungs every time they had to eat vegetables with dinner.

In other words, the investors are the spoiled, horrid children and central planners like Bernanke and Draghi, are the deviant liar parents who  will do/say Anything to shut the demanding brats up with no concern about what happens once they are found out to be untrustworthy.

But in the real world, Investors, as evil as they are, well they're not stupid.  They know these people are untrustworthy and duplicit, and Investors know repeatedly they are being played.

So why be a part of such a game?

1) The saying 'Nothing personal, its just business' firmly applies-- what do Investors care if eventually they are securing daily profit from the rumors.. better there be some market activity on rumor than none based on truth.

2)  They know these central bankers will have to do something ultimately..  its the nature of the beast.  To sit idly by and outwardly impotent is not something men (and women) of great power and ego take too kindly to.
It made us think of Napoleon..

Two hundred years ago this late July, Napoleon was sitting in the little town of Vitebsk, in what is now Belarus.  He had just pushed the Russian Army out of the town and decided to camp there for the autumn-winter and continue his invasion of Russia in the spring.

But after just a few days in this sleepy hamlet, he grew bored.  One of his aides, Philippe-Paul de Segur, later wrote that Napoleon’s fateful decision to immediately advance onto Moscow came from this logic:

    “How can I bear the boredom of seven months of winter in this place?  Am I to be reduced to defending myself – I who have always attacked?  Such a role is unworthy of me…  I am not used to playing it…  It is not in keeping with my genius.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

And advance he did.  With his army of 600,000 men under arms, reaching Moscow on September 14, 1812.  The Russians never gave him the decisive battle he desired, preferring to burn their capital to the ground and move further east.

Winter, famine and disease did the rest, and the Grand Armee left Russian later that year with less than 120,000 soldiers..  80% of Napoleon's Grand Army-- gone in one winter.

It was the greatest military defeat until the Nazis replicated the effort in World War II, happily to a similarly disastrous effect.
So Bernanke, Draghi, etc.. they'll do something..

Even though the Law of Diminishing Returns is in place (each QE produces less of a market bump then the one before)..  Even though the Investor vultures will quickly turn around and demand more..  Even though they know they are coming upon the 'Wall' where any can that is kicked gets bounced back...

Ultimately they'll do something.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Three-Card Monti Draghi follow-up

~ 'Ants sure are stupid little creatures..working.. toiling all day..  I'm a grasshopper.. I'm better than them.. I invest...'

As of 2p, the Dow is up +204pts at 13,092...

Its the third day of triple point gains.. why?

More continual rumor and playing up Investor hopes that all the problems of the EU will finally be solved (to the banks favor, of course)

And the 'exciting' life-altering news that has caused Investors' finely pressed slacks to show noticeable bulges of delight?

Draghi Said to Hold Talks With Weidmann on ECB Bond Purchases -- Bloomberg

'Weidmann' is Jans Weidmann, President of the Bundesbank in Germany.

Big deal!  They talk to each other all the time...  it is usual practice and nothing special that Draghi meets or talks with the members of the Governing Council.

Yet the markets are spiking over this?

We told you in our last post.. if the market could have figured a way to spike 100-300 pts based on Colorado's tragedy, it would have and lost no sleep afterward..

Its the nature of the beast...

~ 'Keep working there, ya stupid common ant.. Hee Hee..


Will anything happen at this 'important' meeting on Aug 2nd?  No

Has anything in the world of reality changed?  No

Just a perfect set up for a very big drop on Monday which CNBC & other financial media will refer to as mere profit-taking.

Its actually very funny... quite comical..  Imagining bottom-feeders dressed in expensive suits and 24k gold tie-clips & cufflinks playing 'Follow the Leader' on every rumor, hunch or innuendo for fear of missing out on the big bull market rally...

We wish there was a way that photographs could be taken of each and every one of their faces when the market crashes this autumn like 2008 and they lose 20-60% of their total net worth...

We'd love to relax to that photo album while sipping some oolong tea
In some versions of 'The Ants and the Grasshopper', when winter comes, the grasshopper, a most pathetic sight, 'knocks' on the 'door' to where the ants are happily nestled, asks to come in from the cold and hunger, and the ants kindly oblige.

We prefer the other versions-- where the ants look at this once-proud grasshopper, now lowly and humbled, and then converge upon to devour the grasshopper till there's nothing left.

Shame Aesop never wrote 'The Ants and the Investor"
~ 'Mmmm, this grasshopper is Delicious... Yummmy!

PPMG in the news: Billy Zane Cast in Barabbas Miniseries

Billy Zane stars in Reelz Network mini series "Barabbas".

Reprint: First reported in Nikki Finke's Deadline.com: http://www.deadline.com/2012/07/virginia-madsen-david-julian-hirsh-billy-zane-in-mini/
Billy Zane as been cast as the title character in the ReelzChannel’s four-part miniseries Barabbas. Based on the novel by Par Lagerkvist, the miniseries follows the life of Barabbas (Zane), a man who was jailed at the same time as Jesus Christ, but who was spared from crucifixion when the masses demanded his release over Jesus. The series picks up where the Bible left off. Zane is repped by Luber Roklin and Paradigm.

Reported in CinemaBlend: http://www.cinemablend.com/television/Billy-Zane-Play-Barabbas-Reelzchannel-Mini-Series-45064.html
Reelzchannel is often one of those institutions people think about in a specific relation to something else. I, for one, only tend to think about Reelzchannel when I am catching a movie preview in a hotel room. This was a common theme for me until May, when Reelzchannel announced it would be launching a new bout of original programming with three new orders. Now, one of these new projects is finally getting its cast together.

When Reelzchannel first announced its new programming initiative, one project caught my eye. In the works was Barabbas, a four-part mini series taking place just after Pontius Pilate and the crowd gathered to release Barabbas from execution before taking the life of Jesus Christ. While we likely won’t get a lot of biblical references throughout the series, Barabbas will take a look inside the life of the criminal in the days following the life-altering event, focusing on the redemptive qualities of getting a second chance.

Now, Deadline has gotten word that Billy Zane will join the cast of the new miniseries. The actor has not secured just any role in the mini series--he will actually take the lead role of Barabbas, which is probably a good call, since we’ve all seen the epic beard the actor can grow. Despite taking on a good number of roles over the past few years, Zane really has not had a moderate success on television since Samantha Who? left the air, and Barabbas may be just the ticket to get the actor back into the TV game.

Reprint: http://www.vulture.com/2012/07/billy-zane-barabbas-bible-miniseries-jesus.html
Billy Zane has been cast as Biblican figure Barabbas in an upcoming ReelzChannel miniseries. The four-part series is based on Par Lagerkvist's 1950 Swedish novel that follows the life of Barabbas, a man who, according to the Christian gospel, was imprisoned alongside Jesus and sentenced to death but was released based on crowd demand. (The book was also made into a 1961 movie starring Anthony Quinn.) Well, if there's anyone whose face screams "contemporary of Christ," it's Billy Zane's.


Media inquiries for Billy Zane, please contact:
Popular Press Media Group (PPMG)
media@ppmg.info, +1-310-860-7774

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Three Card" Monti's game of lies

Yesterday the Dow rose +211 pts...

Why?  Oh nothing really.. just another promise from a soulless banker that those of pure evil who maintain positions of supreme financial power would do everything humanly possible to maintain and preserve the status quo, so Investors can relax and rejoice.

Now ECB President Mario Draghi (and former Goldman Sachs-ite) didn't say those words exactly...

But he might as well ought to have.

Of course this game has been played and replayed numerous times by bankers and political leaders in Europe and the US; a nice, easy non-commitment way of starting faux market rallies that peter out within a couple days.

Promise something.. anything..   No one will hold feet to the fire.. Just say what ya gotta say to get that precious stock market moving upwards..

The Investor filth certainly don't care if the pronouncements are true or not..  If they could have financially profited off the horrific killings in Colorado last week during a midnight screening of Batman, they would have... and done so without any guilt.

And if you think we're exaggerating, you really do not understand these people.

You forgot how excited Investors were last spring over the opportunities for investing in a tsunami-devastated Japan... "A Great Buying Opportunity" it was called at the time by CNBC's Lawrence Kudlow.
~ "'The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that... The human toll is a tragedy; we know that. But these markets, all these markets - stocks, commodities, oil, gold - there is no major breakout or breakdown." - Kudlow on CNBC (3/14/11)

Ohh so many teases.. so many promises of action..

Thursday 7/27, the Dow ended at 12,887 ...

Want to know what it was 10 weeks ago?

Thursday 5/10, the Dow ended at 12,855

In 10 weeks, the Dow has risen a 'whopping' 32 points...

And what about 5 1/2 months ago?

On 2/8/11, the Dow closed at 12,883

So in a span of five and a half months, the market rose 4 pts...
Think about that...  All the ups and downs; the rallies and pullbacks.. the promises by central bankers and governments that problems were fixed; solutions were at hand... and the evil stock market went up 4 teeny-weeny, measly points in 5 1/2 months!

Now the pro-market loyalists will argue that the Dow is 640 pts higher today than it was last year at this time (7/28/11), so 'Ha!' to us...

Okayy... Well we'd respond, if the market is so strong now vs then, why the desperation by so many soulless profit-driven people for the Fed to inject more stimulus?  We thought you implied a 640pt year to year rise was impressive... Shouldn't that be enough to keep tooting that horrible 'recovery' horn?

Ultimately the market is meaningless... it goes up, it goes down..

Problem is that too many people believe the stock market is an accurate barometer of the health of the US economy, so a rising market is like a large rug one can use to sweep a lot of debris and filth under to hide from others..

And quite frankly we at A&G don't want that..

'Ignorance' is not 'Bliss' and no change in financial policy or public groundswell for action will ever occur in a world of individual or populous complacency.

This Day in History: July 26th

As loyal readers know, we here at A&G like to occasionally break up the monotony of stock market & global finance talk by delving back into history to find special or important events which most people may not aware of and have relevance in the present.

Today, July 26 seems to be one of those special days just chock full of relevant & important events, especially if you are American.

For instance, back in 1775, the US Postal Service is established by the Second Continental Congress, with the institution pre-dating the Constitutional Convention (1787), the end of hostilities with Britain (1781) and even the Declaration of Independence (1776).

Especially in the modern age of instant emails, texts and tweets, it is easy to lose sight how important the Post Office has been to the unification and advancement of the nation over the last 220+ years.

More recent events occurring on this date which people can appreciate were President George H. W. Bush signing the 'Americans with Disabilities Act' in 1990 to end discrimination in the workplace, and 42 years prior in 1948, President Truman ended racial segregation of the US Military.

All those events have importance but the one historical occurrence which struck us most interesting, once again involved Harry Truman and took place the year prior when Truman signs into law the National Security Act of 1947.
This Act created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United States Department of Defense, United States Air Force, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the United States National Security Council.

All agencies have been in existence for 65 years now..

Did you know:  Since the National Security Act of '47 was implemented, the US military has been engaged in numerous wars and conflicts, and have yet to truly win any of them...

Let's go down the list chronologically...

1950-52:  Korean War  -- ends in a stalemate with establishment of 51st Parallel dividing North & South Korea, a demarcation still in existence to this day

1963 -1973:  Vietnam Conflict -- 11 years and 60,000 US deaths later, we left Vietnam on the losing side.  Ho Chi Mihn eventually took over and united all of Vietnam shortly after.

1983:  Grenada --  Pres Reagan orders the small Caribbean island to be invaded to free some medical students held hostage amid fears it was being taken over by the Communists.  The mission was a success, but how could it have not been:  Grenada's main island geographically is 17 miles long from north to south and possesses a total population of 110,000 people (1/20th the pop. of Houston, TX).
1991:  Operation Desert Storm --  Multinational forces pretty much led by the US liberated Kuwait but stopped right at the border of Iraq then dispersed the Army because it feared a prolonged war with Saddam Hussein.  With 20/20 hindsight, it turned out to be the sensible decision but as a military operation, it was what is referred to in Blackjack as a 'push', not a victory.

2002: Invasion of Afghanistan --  It should and would have been a great victory especially since it was in response to 9/11 and Americans were solidly behind it...  But it dragged on..and on..and on..  and the mission goals and purpose got more convoluted.. Hard to call that a victory.

2003: Invasion of Iraq -- Putting aside the pretenses; the whole finding 'weapons of mass destruction' nonsense, the invasion itself was quick.. it was thorough..  it was easy..  Shame our leaders had no idea what the next steps would be.  So many. many years later we're still there and no one really knows why we went in the first place beyond cynical, jaded reasons (Was it oil?  Was it George W Bush seeking revenge for Hussein trying to kill his father, Bush 41?)

Did we miss anything?

There's a bit of sad irony that the institutions put in place by Truman in 1947 to fight the Cold War and protect America, has ended up causing anger and hatred by others in so many various regions of the world.

It was not Truman's intent-- The goal of all those agencies was to protect Americans & American interests abroad.
But its just how powerful all-encompassing bureaucracies work-- the need for continually expanding budgets which means the need to show just cause for such expenditures.  And if that means creating chaos or carnage to justify reasons for being in existence, so be it...

And in the ongoing War on Terror, those agencies have more responsibility and power than ever before

History is a funny thing..  its not so much that it repeats..  Its just often events that one may think insignificant at the time, become so important into the future... and events we consider so important today, become mere forgotten footnotes tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shilling for the Fed

Question: How does a large entity, say the Federal Reserve communicate with Investors, bankers and the rest of the financial elite without actually directly speaking to these entities?

In other words, how does the Fed spread gossip, rumor and/or float 'balloons' to see how receptive the market will be to new policy without outright openly admitting it is doing so?

Answer:  It uses the media.

But not just any media... it uses a specific newspaper, or rather we should say, the Fed uses a specific reporter who works for a very influential newspaper to provide inside 'scoops' and special access in exchange that the information is reported without analysis and the Fed is always given a faux positive spin as if the private bank (The Fed is as government run as Fed-Ex) cares about more than preserving its self-interests

The writer's name is Jon Hilsenrath who works for the Wall St Journal.

We only mention because if you ever see anything written by him, you can be able to know who the shill is by name.  And though nothing illegal occurs.. no money exchanged, etc.., to all who are among the inner-circles of the financial elite, this is common knowledge...

Want to read a heads-up on the latest mood of the Fed while seeing them portrayed as saviors wearing the 'white hat'?  Go to that source..

So we want to take a few moments in this post to show how propagandistic journalism works in a free-market, free-speech society..
~ 1914 $10 Federal Reserve Note; Pres. Andrew Jackson pictured (he's currently on $20 bills)

Hilsenrath's latest article for WSJ is entitled, "Fed Sees Action if Growth Doesn't Pick Up Soon".. It's a long article and we're not going to analyze it paragraph by paragraph... instead, here are some 'gems' (in blue font)..

"Federal Reserve officials, impatient with the economy's sluggish growth and high unemployment, are moving closer to taking new steps to spur activity and hiring."

Two lies in that opening sentence..

1)  The Fed does not care about high employment..  It cares that the stock market is dropping

2) The inference to 'taking new steps to spur activity and hiring' is Quantitative Easing 3, which in a way should be called QE5 since we've had 2 official 'QE' and 2 unofficial 'Operation Twists' and unemployment is still in the gutter.

No surprise though... those policies were meant to buy up toxic mortgages from banks' balance sheets and pump liquidity into the market so the Dow would artificially rise and encourage investment.


"Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in testimony to Congress last week, listed several options under consideration, including a new program of buying mortgage-backed or Treasury securities, new commitments to keep short-term interest rates near zero beyond 2014 or an effort to push already-low benchmark short-term interest rates even lower."

Once again, this is portrayed as a good thing; a positive.  It is not...
~ 1914 $20 Federal Reserve Note; Pres. Grover Cleveland pictured

When the Fed buys the toxic debt, it does so by creating new debt i.e. public debt.  In other words, every penny the Fed spends is created from thin air and thus is added to the overall US National Debt which currently is somewhere around $16 trillion.

Also keeping interests super-low only encourages indebtedness and market speculation while Killing savers, especially retirees who are desperate to get enough interest to live on.  Its done intentional though-- the Fed doesn't want savers, they want more mom & pop investors...

"In the Fed's first round of QE in 2009 and early 2010, it bought $1.25 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities and $300 billion of Treasury securities and debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In its second round in 2010 and 2011, the Fed bought $600 billion of Treasury securities. A third round could involve similarly substantial sums. "

So let's see, if you add the $267B being spent on this current 'Operation Twist' with QE 1 & 2, the Fed has pissed away $2.417 Trillion dollars (which is added to the National Debt) to inflate Wall St's value and bail out banks.

The reason its the Fed doing this and not Congress allocating the money is that after seeing how controversial and politically disastrous it was for sitting Congresspeople during the initial $700B TARP allocation in late 2008, a law was passed on Dec 31st while everyone's attention was focused elsewhere, passing off responsibility to the Fed to be the decider of re-capitalization.
~ 1914 $100 Federal Reserve Note; Ben Franklin pictured

Did you know, if you took the $2.417 Trillion spent thus far by the Fed, which has done virtually nothing, and divided equally to 150 million of the poorest Americans, each individual would receive a check for $16,113.33?

Wouldn't That have stimulated the real economy better/quicker?


"Since January the Fed has been saying it doesn't expect to raise short-term interest rates until late 2014. The Fed could change its policy statement in September to move that date into 2015"

If you think that is good, you are delusional..

"A new round of bond-buying would be politically controversial so close to the November presidential election. During Mr. Bernanke's testimony last week, Democrats made clear they wanted the Fed to act and Republicans said it should proceed cautiously. The Fed chief has said repeatedly that the central bank will seek to do what is best for the economy, regardless of political pressure."

Written like a true spokesperson for the Fed..  What utter nonsense! The Fed is as politicized as any other institution:  Bernanke is a registered Republican originally appointed by George W Bush.   Former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain was once head of the Kansas City branch of the Fed..

Every member of the Fed has allegiance to one party or another, and the current President is desperate to win; desperate to show a rising stock market in late October-early Nov... And the Fed Chair appears every month before Congress... so to say the Fed isn't politicized, is foolish.

~ 1914 $10,000 Federal Reserve Note; Salmon Chase, Treasury Sec under Lincoln pictured

BTW, do you know how Fed Chairs are selected?  You'd think the President complies a list and makes the best choice based on qualifications, background, etc...    No.. the President is handed a list by the Fed--  They make up the list and the President picks a nominee from it...

This is why so many Fed Chairs have served under Presidents of both parties..  Because ultimately what does it matter?  The Fed picks who it wants and the rest is a formality..

The main point of this posting wasn't to demonize a specific person.  Sure Hilsenrath basically sells his soul daily to do the Fed Reserve's bidding in exchange for being their #1 go-to guy, but people in the profession of finance really don't look at it as 'bad'... Many actually believe the Fed's intentions are noble and many corporate media writers sincerely believe the tall-tales they spin will help the economy...

But we know better and out goals are pure and non-deceptive:  We simply want people to wake up and think for themselves... Nothing more, nothing less.

Couture Inspiration . . .

Aloha dear readers..I wanna share with you, photos that selected from couture shows..I love this pics. and I've shared these photos on my Facebook page.. now just look & enjoy...Bye