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Federal Reserve Headlines – Fact or Fiction?

Federal Reserve Headlines – Fact or Fiction?

When it becomes serious, you have to lie.” – Jean-Claude Juncker, former President of the Eurogroup of Eurozone finance ministers

On July 16, 2019, Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans made a series of comments that were blasted across the financial news wires. In the headlines taken from his speech on the 16th and other statements over the past few weeks, Mr. Evans argues for the need to cut interest rates at the July 31stmeeting and future meetings.

In this article, we look at his rationale and provide you with supporting graphs and comments that question his logic supporting the rate cuts. We pick on Charles Evans in this piece, but quite honestly, he is reiterating similar themes discussed by many other Fed members.

The issues raised here are important because the Fed continues to play an outsized role in influencing asset valuations that are historically high. As such, it is incumbent upon investors to understand when the Fed may be on the precipice of making a policy error. If asset prices rest on confidence in the Fed, what will happen when said confidence erodes?

The Fed’s Mandate

Before comparing reality with his recent headlines, it is important to clarify the Fed’s Congressional mandate as stated in the Federal Reserve Act. The entire Federal Reserve act can be found HERE. For this article, we focus on Section 2A- Monetary Policy Objectives as follows:

The stock market is at all-time highs, bond yields are well below “moderate,” unemployment stands at 50-year lows, and prices are stable. Based on the Fed’s objectives, there is certainly no reason to cut rates.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Separating truth from fiction in China’s golden game of Poker

Separating truth from fiction in China’s golden game of Poker

This month the Chinese central bank reported that in December 2018, its gold reserve holdings increased by 10 tonnes, the first claimed increase in Chinese monetary gold holdings since October 2016.

Based on previous patterns reporting patterns, a two year hiatus in reporting gold holdings is not unprecedented for the Chinese central bank and its reporting agency SAFE. What is strange, however, is that after an extended absence of reporting, the Chinese are coming back to the table with not a lot to show for it.

It is extremely difficult to believe that the Chinese central bank has not been accumulating gold throughout the last two years. Having said that, the claimed 10 tonne gold addition in December is worthy of analysis in regards to its timing and what it may signal. However, it is also important to keep in mind that there is huge and justified skepticism about the true size of the Chinese State’s monetary gold holdings held through the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), and to this we can probably now add skepticism about the real accumulation pattern of PBoC gold.

A 10 tonne teaser

News of December’s central bank gold purchase was initially published on the web site of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) in it’s December 2018 ‘Official Reserve Assets’ report. Note that SAFE reserve asset updates don’t actually state the quantity of gold the PBoC holds but instead report a US dollar figure valued at the corresponding month-end US dollar gold price.

So for example, the PBoC’s gold holdings were valued at US$ 72.122 billion at the end of November, which at a month-end November gold price of US$ 1217.55 was 1842.5 tonnes, while the stated gold valuation at the end of December was US$ 76.331 billion, which at an end of December LBMA gold price of US$ 1281.65 was 1852.5 tonnes, i.e. a 10 tonne increase.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What science fiction ought to be

What science fiction ought to be

Science fiction has become the dominant genre of the last four decades – the biggest film of the year has been sci-fi almost every year in my lifetime. Of those, some are simply swashbuckler fantasies set in space, like Star Wars, while others are the very entertaining superhero fantasies that have become as ubiquitous as Westerns or musicals once were. Each year, however, brings a new wave of dystopian post-apocalyptic films – in the last year we’ve had Blade Runner 2049, Ready Player One, War for the Planet of the Apes, Geostorm, and later this year we can expect Alita and Mortal Engines

I say “dystopian,” because science fiction used to be creating utopian futures in which mankind had solved most of its problems – Star Trekbeing one of the only survivors of that age. In the time that science fiction has dominated our culture, though, it has been about something else: telling us how hopeless our future is, and how we’re all doomed.

They have a point; we have created a society that runs on coal and oil, which won’t last forever. Even the amount we’ve burned so far has changed the air so much that it is literally changing the weather around the world, creating more intense storms, harsher droughts, and greater extremes of heat and cold. Anyone who walks along the Irish shoreline can see the other main product of our civilisation, the plastic and other rubbish that now clutters the world’s seas, or piles up in landfills that have become the largest man-made structures on Earth.

Yet apocalyptic stories assume that our modern car-driving, computer-using culture will collapse overnight in some catastrophe, whether a robot Armageddon, climate disaster or Rapture – and the fact that we make entertainment about such horrors means that they are not really our fears, but our fantasies.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Devil’s Bargain

We already have planet-cooling technology. The problem is, it’s killing us.

A trope of sci-fi movies these days, from Snowpiercer to Geostorm, is that our failure to tackle climate change will eventually force us to deploy an arsenal of unproven technologies to save the planet. Think sun-deflecting space mirrors or chemically altered clouds. And because these are sci-fi movies, it’s assumed that these grand experiments in geoengineering will go horribly wrong.

The fiction, new evidence suggests, may be much closer to reality than we thought.

When most people hear “climate change,” they think of greenhouse gases overheating the planet. But there’s another product of industry changing the climate that has received scant public attention: aerosols. They’re microscopic particles of pollution that, on balance, reflect sunlight back to space and help cool the planet down, providing a crucial counterweight to greenhouse-powered global warming.

An effort to co-opt this natural cooling ability of aerosols has long been considered a potential last-ditch, desperate shot at slowing down global warming. The promise of planet-cooling technology has also been touted by techno-optimists, Silicon Valley types and politicians who aren’t keen on the government doing anything to curb emissions. “Geoengineering holds forth the promise of addressing global warming concerns for just a few billion dollars a year,” wrote Newt Gingrich in an attack on proposed cap-and-trade legislation back in 2008.

But there’s a catch. Our surplus of aerosols is a huge problem for those of us who like to breathe air. At high concentrations, these tiny particles are one of the deadliest substances in existence, burrowing deep into our bodies where they can damage hearts and lungs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Prepper TV: What Survival-Themed Series Should You Binge-Watch?

Prepper TV: What Survival-Themed Series Should You Binge-Watch?

With the advent of Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon Prime, watching a series has never been easier. No longer do you have to wait a week for the next episode – it’s right there, ready when you are. (If you’re more of a movie buff, check out this list of prepper movies.)

Preppers tend to watch programs a little differently than the rest of the world. Most of us really enjoy survival-themed TV shows because we can really get into the whole analysis of it. It’s like the prepper version of a sporting event, where we can cheer on the smart moves, analyze the situation, and yell at the screen when the characters do something that is bound to get them killed. (And often, we can pick up a few tips or think of things we hadn’t previously considered.)

If you’re going to watch TV, it might as well be thought-provoking, right? We all need some downtime now and then, and watching these shows is a way to relax and be entertained, but still let your mind shift into survival mode. I haven’t had cable for years and personally prefer streaming so I can avoid the annoying commercials.

I asked folks in the Facebook group to give me their favorite shows and got so many I had to break it into two articles. (Be on the lookout for Reality TV: Prepper Style, coming soon.)

15 Survival TV Shows for Preppers

Here are the shows to put in your queue, in no particular order.

The 100

Ninety-seven years ago, Earth was devastated by a nuclear apocalypse, with the only survivors being the inhabitants of orbiting space stations at the time. Three generations later, resources are running out.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Time Is Running Out for the Planet

Time Is Running Out for the Planet

Bill Moyers talks with Bill McKibben about his new novel Radio Free Vermont and the nonfiction ways to fight the system.

Environmental activists in kayaks protest the arrival of the Polar Pioneer, an oil drilling rig owned by Shell Oil, in Seattle. The rig is part of a fleet that will lead a controversial oil-exploration effort off Alaska's North Slope.

Environmental activists in kayaks protest the arrival of the Polar Pioneer, an oil drilling rig owned by Shell Oil, in Seattle. The rig is part of a fleet that will lead a controversial oil-exploration effort off Alaska’s North Slope. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/ CC 2.0)

BillMoyer.com editor’s note: I wasn’t one of the 50,766 participants who finished the New York City Marathon last weekend. Instead, I spent the average marathon finish time of 4:39:07 to read a book — obviously a small book. In the interest of disclosure, I didn’t even start the race, but that’s another and even shorter story than Radio Free Vermont, the book from which I did occasionally look up and out the window to check on the stream of marathoners passing our apartment, their faces worn and haggard. A shame, I thought, that I couldn’t go outside and hand each one a copy of the book that had kept me smiling throughout the day while also restoring my soul; I was sure the resilience would quickly have returned to weary feet and sore muscles now draped in aluminum foil for healing’s sake. I admire those athletes, but wouldn’t have traded their run for my read, because Radio Free Vermont is funny, very funny, all the more so considering the author is one of the more serious men on the planet — the planet he has spent his adult life trying to save. Bill McKibben’s calling has been a footrace of its own, not to report to Athenians the victory of Greek warriors over the Spartans, but to wake up Americans to the once creeping, now billowing threat of global warming. .

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fake News: Newsweek Admits They Didn’t Write Or Even Read “Madam President” Issue

Fake News: Newsweek Admits They Didn’t Write Or Even Read “Madam President” Issue

Newsweek’s political editor, Matthew Cooper, looked as though he’d had a rough month when he appeared on the Tucker Carlson show last night to discuss the “Madam President” debacle.  While the printing and distribution of the erroneous “commemorative edition” magazine was embarrassing enough, Cooper also revealed that no one at Newsweek wrote the Hillary article or even bothered to proofread it before it was shipped off to stores around the country.  

Frankly, it’s difficult to discern between fact and fiction with this story, but, given the quality of the writing, we suspect Cooper had little choice but to distance himself and his team completely from the magazine.  Here is a small excerpt in which Trump’s supporters are again referred to as “deplorables” who “called to repeal the 19th amendment.”  Oddly, we covered the election pretty thoroughly and don’t recall anyone calling for a repeal of the 19th amendment…guess we totally missed that one.

“…as the tone of the election grew darker and more bizarre by the day, President-Elect Hillary Clinton ‘went high’ when her opponent went even lower.  No stranger to trudging through the mire of misogyny in her career as first lady, senator, and secretary of state, President-Elect Clinton continued to push for an issues-based campaign even as a handful of Trump’s most deplorable supporters, seeing the wide margins Clinton held among female voters, called to repeal the 19th amendment.  On election day, Americans across the country roundly rejected the kind of fear and hate-based conservatism peddled by Donald Trump and elected the first woman in U.S. history to the presidency. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Retrotopia: The Cloud that Hides the Future

Retrotopia: The Cloud that Hides the Future

This is the twenty-fifth and last installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator spends his last few hours in the Lakeland Republic, finds an answer to a question that has been bothering him, and boards the train back to Pittsburgh and the unknowns that wait there…

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There wasn’t much more to be said after that, and so we all mouthed the usual things and I headed back to my hotel. The rain had settled in good and hard by then, so I didn’t dawdle. Back in the room, I got my coat and hat hung up to dry a little, and then turned the radio on to the jazz station, settled into the chair, and read the morning news. I had one more appointment at noon, and a train to catch at 2:26 that afternoon, and not a thing to do until then; I knew that I was going to be up to my eyeballs in meetings, briefings, and two weeks of unanswered textmails the minute I got back home; and just at the moment, the thought of taking some time at the Lakeland Republic’s less frantic pace and trying to make a little more sense of the world had a definite appeal.

I’d already read the headlines, so there weren’t too many surprises in store, though a United Nations panel had issued another warning about the zinc shortage, and meteorologists were predicting that the monsoons would fail in south Asia for the third year in a row.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Retrotopia: The Only Way Forward

Retrotopia: The Only Way Forward

This is the twenty-fourth (and next to last) installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. At a final meeting between our narrator and Isaiah Meeker, President of the Lakeland Republic, certain unstated agendas are revealed and the future of one of the post-US North American republics takes an unexpected turn…

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A taxi brought back to my hotel from Janice Mikkelson’s mansion—one of her flunkeys called it for me—and I spent most of the ride staring out the window and thinking about what she’d said about the prewar rich. I’d heard plenty of stories along the same lines, of course, everybody has, but for some reason my mind kept circling back to the way that they’d dug their own graves and then jumped into them. Why didn’t it occur to them that voting themselves one billion-dollar bonus after another, while driving their own employees and the rest of the country into poverty, was going to blow up in their faces sooner or later?

I was thinking that, staring out at the darkening sky, when a little pale streak brought me back to reality. The dozens of governments and corporations that kept launching satellites even after 2029, when the Kessler syndrome in low earth orbit should have given them a wake-up call, had gone waltzing just as cluelessly into a preventable disaster of their own. I thought of the mess we’d gotten into back home by going long on nuclear power plants in the 2040s, long after it should have been clear to everyone that nuclear power was—what was Fred Vanich’s phrase?—a subsidy dumpster, one more technological white elephant that never paid for itself and only looked profitable because most of the costs were shoved out of sight one way or another.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Retrotopia: Diminishing Returns

Retrotopia: Diminishing Returns

This is the nineteenth installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator, forced to grapple with the cognitive dissonance between everything he believes about progress and the facts of life in the Lakeland Republic, tries to evade the issue for an evening—and ends up even deeper in perplexity…

***********

The next day was Saturday, and for a change, I didn’t have anything planned. The marathon sessions of negotiation with President Meeker’s staff, exhausting though they’d been, had taken up less of my time in Toledo than I’d expected; even if I sat on my rump in my room until it was time to catch the train home Wednesday, I’d still get back to Philadelphia with everything taken care of that I’d officially been asked to do. That was comforting—or it should have been.

As it was, I woke up in a foul mood, and things didn’t get any better as I went through my morning routine and then stared at the window, trying to decide what to do with the day. Partly, I was annoyed at the way the evening had gone, annoyed with myself for almost getting into a fight with Melanie Berger, and with her for almost getting into a fight with me. The worst of it, though, was the bizarre logic she’d used to brush aside my concerns about the Lakeland Republic’s survival. Her notion that progress had somehow turned into the enemy of prosperity and the source of most of the world’s problems—I could barely frame the idea in my mind without shaking my head and laughing, it was so obviously wrong.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Retrotopia: The Far Side of Progress

Retrotopia: The Far Side of Progress

I got lunch at the little café across the street from the Capitol, and then went to talk to Melanie Berger and a dozen other people from Meeker’s staff. We had a lot of ground to cover and I’d lost two and a half days to the flu, so we buckled down to work and kept at it until we were all good and tired. It was eight o’clock, I think, before we finally broke for dinner and headed for a steak place, and after that I went back to my hotel and slept hard for ten hours straight.

The next morning we were back at it again. Ellen Montrose wanted a draft trade agreement, a draft memorandum on border security, and at least a rough draft of a treaty allowing inland-waterway transport from our territory down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and points south, and she wanted them before her inauguration, so she could hit the ground running once her term began. I figured she also meant to announce them in her inauguration speech and throw the Dem-Reps onto the defensive immediately, so they’d be too busy trying to block her agenda to come up with an agenda of their own.

The Lakelanders knew about the proposals—they’d been briefed while my trip was still in the planning stage—and they were willing to meet her halfway, but they had a shopping list of their own.  The trade agreement in particular required a lot of finagling, so the Restos wouldn’t shoot it down when it came up for ratification by the legislature, and I had to weigh everything against what Montrose’s people and the legislature in Philadelphia would be willing to tolerate.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Retrotopia: A Distant Scent of Blood

Retrotopia: A Distant Scent of Blood

This is the sixteenth installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator, having recovered from a bout of the flu, goes for a walk, meets someone he’s encountered before, and begins to understand why the Lakeland Republic took the path it did…

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The next morning I felt pretty good, all things considered, and got up not too much later than usual. It was bright and clear, as nice an autumn day as you could ask for. I knew I had two days to make up and a lot of discussions and negotiations with the Lakeland Republic government still waited, but I’d been stuck in my room for two days and wanted to stretch my legs a bit before I headed back into another conference room at the Capitol. I compromised by calling Melanie Berger and arranging to meet with her and some other people from Meeker’s staff after lunch. That done, once I’d finished my morning routine, I headed down the stairs and out onto the street.

I didn’t have any particular destination in mind, just fresh air and a bit of exercise, and two or three random turns brought me within sight of the Capitol. That sent half a dozen trains of thought scurrying off in a bunch of directions, and one of them reminded me that I hadn’t seen a scrap of news for better than two days. Another couple of blocks and I got to Kaufer’s News, where the same scruffy-looking woman was sitting on the same wooden stool, surrounded by the same snowstorm of newspapers and magazines.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dystopian Fiction of Yesterday is the NWO of Tomorrow: “The Shift is Toward Totalitarianism”

Dystopian Fiction of Yesterday is the NWO of Tomorrow: “The Shift is Toward Totalitarianism”

1984

Many of the things that are happening this very moment have direct parallels in literature of the past.  Whether it is an account such as the “Gulag Archipelago” by Solzhenitsyn or a work of “fiction” such as “1984” by George Orwell is irrelevant.  Elements of the history or the storyline (regarding the former and the latter works) are now becoming thoroughly inculcated into the fabric of modern reality.

All of the measures taken by the Soviet Union to crush and control its population are beginning to manifest themselves today in the United States.  The courts are “stacked” to reflect the decision of the regime and not to rule by law.  The Military Industrial Complex contracts are still being shuffled, along with government policies that just happen to substantiate those business interests with kickbacks for all.  Laws serve political and corporate interests, and the lawmakers themselves do not represent any of their constituents: they are self-serving thieves, selling out their country and its populace for money and power.

The police departments have (for all intents and purposes) been “federalized,” with budgets and marching orders becoming increasingly dependent upon federal and not local or state policies.  Sheriffs who follow their appointed roles as duly-elected law enforcement officials upholding Constitutional guidelines are being “phased out” of existence.  The changed demographics of “forced” insertions of illegal aliens and “refugees” into populations are rapidly negating the remainder of the two-party system to ensure that the Democratic party takes control ad infinitum.

Orwell envisioned it.  His work is labeled a work of fiction, although all of the measures Oceania pursued are either currently in place in the United States or they’re being developed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Retrotopia: Back To What Worked

Retrotopia: Back To What Worked

This is the fifteenth installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator visits another school, catches the flu, and has his first encounter with the Lakeland Republic’s health care system…

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I made some phone calls the next morning and got my schedule sorted out for the next few days. Now that President Meeker had gotten things sorted out with the Restos, I had a lot of things to discuss with the Lakeland government, and I knew they’d want to know as much as possible about what was going to change following the election back home.

By quarter to nine I was climbing the marble stairs in front of the Capitol, passing a midsized crowd of wide-eyed schoolchildren on a field trip. The morning went into detailed discussions with government officials—Melanie Berger from Meeker’s staff, Stuart Macallan from the State Department, and Jaya Patel from the Department of Commerce—about the potential reset in relations between their country and mine now that Barfield and the Dem-Reps were out on their collective ear. They were frankly better prepared for the discussion than I was; I’d taken the precaution of printing out the position papers from Montrose’s transition team before I got on the train in Pittsburgh, and reviewed them the night before, but it was pretty obvious that the Lakelanders weren’t used to looking things up moment by moment on a veepad and I was.

We had lunch downstairs in the congressional dining room, a big pleasant space with tall windows letting in the autumn sunlight, and then it was up to Meeker’s office and a long afternoon talking with the President.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Retrotopia: Lines of Separation

Retrotopia: Lines of Separation

This is the fourteenth installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator returns from his trip to a tier one county full of doubts about the Lakeland Republic’s prospects, and has those at once challenged and sharpened by a conversation at the local Atheist Assembly…

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I’d had lunch with Ruth Mellencamp at a pleasant little diner a block from the station before I caught the train, so I had nothing to do until I got to Defiance but watch farmland roll by and think about what I’d seen since I’d crossed the border less than a week before. My reactions were an odd mix of reluctant admiration and unwilling regret. The people of the Lakeland Republic had taken a situation that would have crushed most countries—an international embargo backed up with repeated attempts at regime change—and turned it into their advantage, using isolation from the capital flows and market pressures of the global economy to give them space to return to older ways of doing things that actually produced better results than the modern equivalents.

The problem with that, I told myself, was that it couldn’t last. That was the thing that had bothered me, the night after I’d toured the New Shaker settlement, though it had taken another day to come into focus. The whole Lakeland Republic was like the New Shakers, the sort of fragile artificial construct that only worked because it isolated itself from the rest of the world. Now that the embargo was over and the borders with the other North American republics were open, the isolation was gone, and I didn’t see any reason to think the Republic’s back-to-the-past ideology would be strong enough by itself in the face of the overwhelming pressures the global economy could bring to bear.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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