Findings & Forecasts 10/03/2012

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Economy

Cal­i­fornia is usu­ally the state that leads the nation in social, eco­nomic and polit­ical trends, and that’s why it deserves to be watched so closely. Munic­ipal bank­rupt­cies in Stockton, San Bernardino and Mam­moth Lakes, for instance, led Moody’s to con­clude in August, “more bank­ruptcy fil­ings and bond defaults among Cal­i­fornia cities, reflecting the increased risk to bond­holders as investors are asked to con­tribute to plans for closing budget gaps.” Munic­i­pal­i­ties across the nation are in under the same kind of duress.

The above table, from the IAR Inland Empire Report on Busi­ness for Sep­tember, is an eye opener. The Inland Empire is rep­re­sented by San Bernardino and River­side coun­ties, and is one of the most impor­tant eco­nomic areas in the state. Note that num­bers above 50 rep­re­sent expan­sion and those below 50 indi­cate contraction.

Local PMI, or Pur­chasing Manager’s Index, went from increasing in August to sharp neg­a­tive con­trac­tion in Sep­tember. Pro­duc­tion, also increasing in August, plunged from 55.0 to 37.5 in Sep­tember. New Orders also plunged, as did exports.

Employ­ment had increased in August, but went seri­ously neg­a­tive in Sep­tember by drop­ping to 44.6 from 52.

Granted that the Inland Empire is a very small slice of America as a whole, but as a leading indi­cator, it is falling off the cliff. Even if August had been an encour­aging sign of recovery, Sep­tember was slammed back into recession.

The PMI chart shows the decline starting in April 2012 — it has fallen like a rock with only two upward blips along the way. Is this a pic­ture of eco­nomic recovery? Hardly. In fact, these kinds of num­bers defy the national pic­ture pre­sented by the Fed­eral government.

The global economy is doing no better. Europe is now offi­cially back into reces­sion, with the only notable excep­tion being Ger­many. Euro­zone unem­ploy­ment has reached a record high of 11.4 per­cent, but dig­ging deeper reveals a dis­turbing pic­ture. Youth unem­ploy­ment in the EU is 22.8 per­cent. Overall unem­ploy­ment in Spain is 25.1 per­cent, but 52.9 per­cent of youth 25 or under are out of work.

France’s latest PMI chart is notice­ably sim­ilar to the Inland Empire except that the most recent peak occurred about 9 months earlier.

France’s newly-elected prime min­ister François Hol­lande, a rad­ical socialist, has led the country in the oppo­site direc­tion of recovery by imple­menting severe aus­terity pro­grams (dic­tated by the EU itself) while simul­ta­ne­ously increasing taxes. The policy is already having dis­as­trous effects.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote in The Tele­graph on Sunday, “Another domino falls as Hol­lande pushes France into depression”,

“Data col­lected by Simon Ward at Hen­derson Global Investors shows that a key leading indi­cator of the money supply –‘six-month real M1 money’ — is now con­tracting even faster in France than in Spain. The shock will hit over the winter.” [emphasis added]

Whether Hol­lande under­stands defla­tion is unknown, but he is playing right into its hands. Ambrose concludes,

France now joins Italy, Spain, Por­tugal, Greece, Ire­land, and parts of Eastern Europe in syn­chro­nized tight­ening, with the Nether­lands and Bel­gium cut­ting too, all drag­ging each other down in a 1930s slide into the polit­ical swamp.”

Whether one looks at Europe or the U.S., the edge of the eco­nomic abyss is the same, and both are headed that way. There are no gov­ern­ment poli­cies that can reverse or fore­stall the journey.

The Fed’s QE3 pro­gram of pur­chasing $40 bil­lion in Trea­suries per month has nothing to do with eco­nomic recovery or cre­ating jobs: It is a panic move to stave off mon­e­tary defla­tion which is already underway. This move is des­tined to fail just like all pre­vious attempts have failed: The banksters will avoid insol­vency but few others will see any cash.

Tech­noc­racy

Those of us who voiced con­cerns and crit­i­cism over the Depart­ment of Home­land Security/FBI imple­men­ta­tion of so-called Fusion Cen­ters around the U.S., were rou­tinely dis­missed as alarmists and irrel­e­vant. Now the chickens have come home to roost with national head­lines over the scan­dalous results pro­duced by these uncon­sti­tu­tional spy centers.

The reason it hit the news is due to a damning report issued by the Senate Home­land Secu­rity and Gov­ern­mental Affairs that declares in its Exec­u­tive Sum­mary on page one,

“Sharing terrorism-related infor­ma­tion between state, local and fed­eral offi­cials is cru­cial to pro­tecting the United States from another ter­rorist attack. Achieving this objec­tive was the moti­va­tion for Con­gress and the White House to invest hun­dreds of mil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars over the last nine years in sup­port of dozens of state and local fusion cen­ters across the United States. Con­gress directed the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity (DHS) to lead this ini­tia­tive. A bipar­tisan inves­ti­ga­tion by the Per­ma­nent Sub­com­mittee on Inves­ti­ga­tions has found, how­ever, that DHS’ work with those state and local fusion cen­ters has not pro­duced useful intel­li­gence to sup­port fed­eral coun­tert­er­rorism efforts.

“The Sub­com­mittee inves­ti­ga­tion found that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion cen­ters for­warded “intel­li­gence” of uneven quality – often­times shoddy, rarely timely, some­times endan­gering cit­i­zens’ civil lib­er­ties and Pri­vacy Act pro­tec­tions, occa­sion­ally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unre­lated to ter­rorism.” [emphasis added]

Starting in 2003, DHS has cre­ated 73 Fusion Cen­ters in the U.S., but actual loca­tions in each state were kept secret until early 2011. Cen­ters were to com­bine Fed­eral and local law enforce­ment resources along with pri­vate par­ties involved in public infra­struc­ture, in order to suck data from every pos­sible local source for com­put­er­ized analysis.

What­ever Con­gress had in mind, it was NOT what DHS pro­ceeded to do, namely, create a behe­moth cit­izen spying exper­i­ment that was run without over­sight and a vir­tu­ally unlim­ited budget. DHS cannot recon­struct how much money they actu­ally spent, where it was spent and to whom it was given, but it is esti­mated to be a multi­bil­lion dollar boondoggle.

The gist of “data fusion” is this: Take data from many diverse areas and data­bases, com­bine it into a single data­base (the “fusion” process) and then apply heuristic (arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence) pro­gram algo­rithms that infer who the bad guys might be. The problem is that it doesn’t work and ordi­nary, inno­cent cit­i­zens are easily pegged for being “sus­pi­cious” and then watched for crim­inal behavior.

While Fusion Cen­ters failed Con­gress, they have not failed the Tech­nocrats within DHS. Tech­niques and tech­nology for data col­lec­tion and com­puter analysis have advanced by leaps and bounds and are now ready for prime-time imple­men­ta­tion on a more com­pre­hen­sive nation­wide basis.

As the National Secu­rity Agency (NSA) com­pletes its $2 bil­lion mon­ster data center in Bluff­dale, Utah by the end of 2013, it will be ready to run a new gen­er­a­tion of soft­ware on its mas­sive array of super-computers. Plans for the data center include 100,000 square feet just for com­puters and an addi­tional 900,000 feet for other office space — that’s 23 acres of office space on 240 acres of fenced and guarded secret compound.

U.S. Army Gen­eral Keith Alexander, who heads the NSA as well as the U.S. Cyber Com­mand, insisted in July 2012 that the data center will NOT be used to spy on Amer­ican cit­i­zens: “We don’t store data on U.S. cit­i­zens… That’s baloney. … That’s ludicrous.”

When­ever I hear this kind of rhetoric, espe­cially when no sup­porting evi­dence is offered, I know for cer­tain that the oppo­site is most likely true: NSA will assemble the largest col­lec­tion of cit­izen data in his­tory. It will be the “mother of all fusion centers.”

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Market

Thus far, antic­i­pated selling pres­sure has not mate­ri­al­ized from last week. The S&P 500 has closed mar­gin­ally higher for four days in a row, but market inter­nals have been tepid, to say the least. Since the recent peaks, a clear five wave down pat­tern cannot yet be iden­ti­fied. Without a clear down­ward impul­sive move, we cannot say for cer­tain that Pri­mary Wave 2 is over, even if it is close at hand.

How­ever, the longer the delay in decline, the greater the odds that another and final wave up will unfold.

Along with stocks, gold and silver have also resisted fur­ther decline. With gold, a close above $1,800 could trigger a rally car­rying to new highs. Silver has lagged behind gold, but could also advance along with gold. As stated ear­lier, a close in gold below $1,725 would greatly increase the odds of fur­ther decline.

The dollar has remained firm for sev­eral trading ses­sions now, and seems to be the “lone wolf” in terms of a more defined direction.

If you are like me, you hate inde­ci­sion and waiting. Patience is not a nat­ural trait. On the other hand, con­sid­ering the domestic and global eco­nomic pic­ture can only lead us to the con­clu­sion that we are on the edge of a cliff about to fall off.

The global economy is in the tank, despite rel­a­tively higher prices in equi­ties. Shock waves are seen in unem­ploy­ment sta­tis­tics, PMI con­trac­tions, cap­ital goods, ship­ping rates, etc. Sooner or later, there is going to be a “point of recog­ni­tion” where investors and money man­agers realize the vac­uous sit­u­a­tion that we are in, and begin to sell equi­ties like there is no tomorrow.

Fur­ther exac­er­bating their dilemma will be rising interest rates, which push bond prices down. Thus, selling declining equi­ties for declining bonds will be a total lose-lose sit­u­a­tion, adding to the crisis.

In light of this, the market lev­i­ta­tion cur­rently seen is a bubble waiting to be popped. There are no internal indi­ca­tors that are screaming market advance, in fact, just the opposite.

So wait we must, like it or not. The risk of get­ting caught in the tsunami of Pri­mary Wave 3 down is too great with any other strategy.

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3 Responses to Findings & Forecasts 10/03/2012

  1. Craig Stelck October 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    At least the genius’s are feeling up old white women and young ado­les­cent white girls at the air­port terminal’s. Our gang­ster­ment is hor­rible beyond descrip­tion and half our cit­i­zens have had NPR-MSNBC-ABC-CNN cra­nial rectal reversals.

  2. Brenda October 4, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    What your saying Mr. P is that our country is finding out too much, so we are get­ting rid of the informers because it scares you that we are fining out?

  3. Patrick Wood October 4, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Not quite fol­lowing your question.

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