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Underestimating Them & Overestimating Us

UNDERESTIMATING THEM & OVERESTIMATING US

“Do not underestimate the ‘power of underestimation’. They can’t stop you, if they don’t see you coming.” ― Izey Victoria Odiase

Image result for bernanke, yellen, powell

During the summer of 2008 I was writing articles a few times per week predicting an economic catastrophe and a banking crisis. When the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression swept across the world, resulting in double digit unemployment, a 50% stock market crash in a matter of months, millions of home foreclosures, and the virtual insolvency of the criminal Wall Street banks, my predictions were vindicated. I was pretty smug and sure the start of this Fourth Turning would follow the path of the last Crisis, with a Greater Depression, economic disaster and war.

In the summer of 2008, the national debt stood at $9.4 trillion, which amounted to 65% of GDP. Total credit market debt peaked at $54 trillion. Consumer debt peaked at $2.7 trillion. Mortgage debt crested at $14.8 trillion. The Federal Reserve balance sheet had been static at or below $900 billion for years.

During 2007, a risk averse senior citizen couple (my parents) who had accumulated $200,000 of retirement savings over their lifetime of hard work, could generate $10,000 of interest income in a Vanguard money market fund yielding 5%. This supplemented their modest Social Security income of $20,000 to $30,000 per year. The interest rate on savings during normal economic times was generally 2% above inflation, which hovered around 3% in 2007 according to the data manipulators at the BLS.

As the summer of 2008 progressed, I felt more disconnected. I had been doing everything possible to support Ron Paul’s candidacy for president, but the masses weren’t ready for the truth or the reality of our situation. In my opinion the country was already off-course and headed towards a debt created disaster. 

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Demoralized, Depressed, Detached & Defiant

Image result for occupy wall street hot girl

Demoralized, Depressed, Detached & Defiant

I’ve now been running The Burning Platform blog for over ten years. It’s been over eleven years since I wrote my first article – Why We Need Ron Paul – in May 2008 during the Republican primaries. I really thought I could change enough minds through my writing to influence voters and help wake up people to the truth about our deteriorating financial situation. I would send op-eds to my local paper, and they would publish them. My articles on Seeking Alpha in 2008/2009 were the most read and commented on their site.

My assessment of the Wall Street banks, coming financial crisis and recession were accurate enough that I was being sought out by Glenn Beck on CNN, Neal Cavuto on Fox, and Maria Bartiromo on CNBC to be interviewed on their shows. I didn’t want that kind of attention, since it would likely have negatively impacted my day job – which actually supported my family.

I had already experienced negative blowback when I predicted the bankruptcy of General Growth Properties in one of my articles. It seems the CFO was a Wharton grad and large donor to the real estate department. He called the Dept. head, who called the Deputy Dean, who called my boss, the CFO. It was at this point where any mention of Wharton was forbidden on my part, or I risked being terminated.

The interesting part of the story was the General Growth CFO said none of my facts were incorrect and six months later General Growth Properties filed for bankruptcy. I sent a link of the announcement to my boss, who throughout his tenure defended my right to free speech whenever the Dean’s office received complaints about my articles. We had a good laugh about their bankruptcy.

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Fourth Turning Economics

Fourth Turning Economics

“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe 

Image result for total global debt 2019

The quote above captures the current Fourth Turning perfectly, even though it was written more than a decade before the 2008 financial tsunami struck. With global debt now exceeding $250 trillion, up 60% since the Crisis began, and $13 trillion of sovereign debt with negative yields, it is clear to all rational thinking individuals the next financial crisis will make 2008 look like a walk in the park. We are approaching the eleventh anniversary of this crisis period, with possibly a decade to go before a resolution.

As I was thinking about what confluence of economic factors might ignite the next bloody phase of this Fourth Turning, I realized economic factors have been the underlying cause of all four Crisis periods in American history.

Debt levels in eurozone, G7, US and Germany

The specific details of each crisis change, but economic catalysts have initiated all previous Fourth Turnings and led ultimately to bloody conflict. There is nothing in the current dynamic of this Fourth Turning which argues against a similar outcome. The immense debt, stock and real estate bubbles, created by feckless central bankers, corrupt politicians, and spineless government apparatchiks, have set the stage for the greatest financial calamity in world history.

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Winter is Coming (Part Three)

WINTER IS COMING (PART THREE)

“The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and twin emergencies of the Great Depression and World War II.” – Strauss & Howe The Fourth Turning 

Image result for swirling fog game of thrones

In Part One of this article I laid out the reasons for Gray Champions arising to meet challenges during crisis periods in history. In Part Two of this article I assessed the configuration of Gray Champions throughout the world and the potential impact on the course of this Fourth Turning.

The swirling fog of confusion enveloping the globe as the high lords of the universe play their game of thrones has even the most critical thinking individuals baffled by the course of events. The desperation and blatant lawlessness of the Deep State players in their endeavor to preserve their hegemony over the course of global affairs is palpable with every attack, false flag, accusation, and ratcheting up of their propaganda media machine.

Like Game of Thrones, the behind the scenes machinations, subterfuge, and deceptions taking place outside the purview of the common folk are designed to only benefit the rich and powerful players undertaking these traitorous actions. Open warfare will not happen until it is thought to be in the best interests of those manipulating the levers of society and the narrative produced by their perpetual propaganda media machine. But, in the end, it will be the innocent common people who will suffer the consequences, while the lords reap the riches, glory and power.

“Why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?”Lord Varys – George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones

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Will Trump Accept Responsibility When This Shitshow Implodes?

WILL TRUMP ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY WHEN THIS SHITSHOW IMPLODES?

Donald J. Trump has taken credit for making America’s economy great again. He’s been crowing about all the jobs being created, the soaring consumer confidence and record highs in the stock market. It’s all because the Donald has inspired Americans about our glorious future.

But, a funny thing has been happening in the real world. The economy has gone into the shitter and GDP will be lucky to reach 1% in the first quarter of his presidency. The bullshit consumer confidence surveys mean absolutely nothing. Feelings don’t mean shit. What consumers do is what matters.

67% of the US economy is dependent upon Americans spending money they don’t have on shit they don’t need. And they’ve dramatically reduced that spending. If consumers are so confident, why are a record number of major retailers going bankrupt and closing 3,500 stores in 2017? Mom and pop retailers have been shuttering for years.

If the narrative about a dramatically improving housing market was true, why would furniture store sales and building material store sales be falling? They wouldn’t. It seems even the spendthrift millennials have run out of dough, as restaurant sales are in free fall. Restaurant chains have begun closing units now. It has only just begun.

The auto industry ponzi scheme has come to an end, as billions in subprime loans to deadbeats is finally coming home to roost. If you lend money to idiots with no means to repay you, the loans will go bad. Auto sales have begun to fall and will continue to fall for the next couple years, as this house of cards built on the Fed’s easy money collapses.

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Stupid is as Stupid Does

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

If you prefer fake news, fake data, and a fake narrative about an improving economy and stock market headed to 30,000, don’t read this fact based, reality check article. The level of stupidity engulfing the country has reached epic proportions, as the mainstream fake news networks flog bullshit Russian conspiracy stories, knowing at least 50% of the non-thinking iGadget distracted public believes anything they hear on the boob tube.

This stupendous degree of utter stupidity goes to a new level of idiocy when it comes to the stock market. The rigged fleecing machine known as Wall Street has gone into hyper-drive since futures dropped by 700 points on the night of Trump’s election. An already extremely overvalued market, as measured by every historically accurate valuation metric, soared by 4,000 points from that futures low – over 20% – to an all-time high. Despite dozens of warning signs and the experience of two 40% to 50% crashes in the last fifteen years, lemming like investors are confident the future is so bright they gotta wear shades.

The current bull market is the 2nd longest in history at 8 years. In March of 2009, the S&P 500 bottomed at a fitting level for Wall Street of 666. In a shocking coincidence, it bottomed on the same day Bernanke & Geithner forced the FASB to rollover like mangy dogs and stop enforcing mark to market accounting. Amazingly, when Wall Street banks, along with Fannie and Freddie, could value their toxic assets at whatever they chose, profits surged. The market is now 240% higher.

You have the second longest bull market in history, while stock market valuations, as measured by the Shiller PE ratio and every other historically accurate valuation method, are higher than 1929 and 2007, but the Wall Street hype machine and the business network shills adamantly declare this bull has years to go and thousands of points of upside.

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The Boomer Retirement Meme Is A Big Lie

THE BOOMER RETIREMENT MEME IS A BIG LIE

As the labor participation rate and employment to population ratio linger near three decade lows, the mouthpieces for the establishment continue to perpetuate the Big Lie this is solely due to the retirement of Boomers. It’s their storyline and they’ll stick to it, no matter what the facts show to be the truth. Even CNBC lackeys, government apparatchiks, and Ivy League educated Keynesian economists should be able to admit that people between the ages of 25 and 54 should be working, unless they are home raising children.

In the year 2000, at the height of the first Federal Reserve induced bubble, there were 120 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 54, with 78 million of them employed full-time. That equated to a 65% full-time employment rate. By the height of the second Federal Reserve induced bubble, there were 80 million full-time employed 25 to 54 year olds out of 126 million, a 63.5% employment rate. The full-time employment rate bottomed at 57% in 2010, and still lingers below 62% as we are at the height of a third Federal Reserve induced bubble.

Over the last 16 years the percentage of 25 to 54 full-time employed Americans has fallen from 65% to 62%. I guess people are retiring much younger, if you believe the MSM storyline. Over this same time period the total full-time employment to population ratio has fallen from 53% to 48.8%. The overall labor participation rate peaked in 2000 at 67.1% and stayed steady between 66% and 67% for the next eight years. But this disguised the ongoing decline in the participation rate of men.

In 1970, the labor participation rate of all men was 80%, while the participation rate of women was just below 43%.

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The Odds Are Never In Your Favour

The Odds Are Never In Your Favour

The irony of the phrase “may the odds be ever in your favor” is not lost on the readers of the Hunger Games trilogy of novels or the film adaption. Despite the grimness of the story, over 65 million copies of the books have been sold. The total box office take so far has exceeded $1.4 billion for the four movies. The dystopian series tackles real issues like severe poverty, starvation, torture, oppression, betrayal and the brutality of war. It doesn’t fit into the standard film making success recipe of feel good fluff, politically correct storylines and happy endings. Each film in the series gets progressively darker, with the final episode permeating doom and gloom. The books and the movies capture the deepening crisis mood engulfing the world today. And they realistically portray the world as a place where there are no good guys in positions of power. The ruling class, in all cases, is driven by a voracious appetite for supremacy, wealth, and control.

An Ambiguous, Confusing, Dangerous World

The world is a morally ambiguous place where those in power and those seeking power utilize the influence of media propaganda and PR campaigns built around “heroes” and “icons” to psychologically control the masses, while enriching themselves and their crony capitalist sponsors. Endless war against the latest “bad guys” further enriches the arms dealers and their political lackeys who joyfully use faux patriotism and nationalistic fervor to insist upon more boots on the ground, drones in the air, bombs dropped, and missiles launched.

War is good for business and keeps the masses distracted, while the Wall Street financiers harvest the wealth of the citizens.

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Deja Vu All Over Again

Deja Vu All Over Again

Janet Yellen will increase interest rates for the first time in nine years on Wednesday. She isn’t raising them because the economy is strengthening. The economy just happens to be weakening rapidly, as global recession takes hold. The stock market is 3% lower than it was in December 2014, and has basically done nothing since the end of QE3. Wall Street is throwing a hissy fit to try and stop Janet from boosting rates by an inconsequential .25%. Janet would prefer not to raise rates, but the credibility and reputation of her bubble blowing machine is at stake. The Fed has enriched their Wall Street benefactors over the last six years, while destroying the real economy and the middle class.

The quarter point increase will be reversed in short order as soon as we experience market collapse part two. It will be followed with negative interest rates and QE4, as these academics have only one play in their playbook – print money. They created the last financial crisis and have set the stage for the next – even bigger collapse. John Hussman explains how their zero interest rate policy has driven speculators into junk bonds as the only place to get any yield.

Over the past several years, yield-seeking investors, starved for any “pickup” in yield over Treasury securities, have piled into the junk debt and leveraged loan markets. Just as equity valuations have been driven to the second most extreme point in history (and the single most extreme point in history for the median stock, where valuations are well-beyond 2000 levels), risk premiums on speculative debt were compressed to razor-thin levels. By 2014, the spread between junk bond yields and Treasury yields had fallen to less than 2.4%. Since then, years of expected “risk-premiums” have been erased by capital losses, and defaults haven’t even spiked yet (they do so with a lag).

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Living a Lie

Living a Lie

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

The lies we tell ourselves are only exceeded by the lies perpetrated by those controlling the levers of our society. We’ve lost respect for ourselves and others, transforming from citizens with obligations to consumers with desires. The love of mammon has left our country a hollowed out, debt ridden shell of what it once was.  When I see the data from surveys about the amount of debt being carried by people in this country and match it up with the totals reported by the Federal Reserve, I’m honestly flabbergasted that so many people choose to live a lie. By falling for the false materialistic narrative of having it all today, millions of Americans have enslaved themselves in trillions of debt. The totals are breathtaking to behold:

Total mortgage debt – $13.6 trillion ($9.9 trillion residential)

Total credit card debt – $924 billion

Total auto loan debt – $1.0 trillion

Total student loan debt – $1.3 trillion

Other consumer debt – $300 billion

With 118 million occupied households in the U.S., that comes to $145,000 per household. But, when you consider only 74 million of the households are owner occupied and approximately 26 million of those are free and clear of mortgage debt, that leaves millions of people with in excess of $200,000 in mortgage debt. Keeping up with the Joneses has taken on a new meaning as buying a 6,000 sq ft McMansion with 3% down became the standard operating procedure for a vast swath of image conscious Americans. When you are up to your eyeballs in debt, you don’t own anything. You are living a lie.

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The Fed Induced Farce

The Fed Induced Farce

The minutes from the last Fed meeting were released on Wednesday afternoon. The minutes, along with a squadron of jabbering Fed heads lying about the economy doing great, pretty much locked in the most talked about .25% interest rate increase in world history.  Evidently the Wall Street titans of greed have convinced the muppets higher interest rates are great for stocks, as the market soared by 250 points. As institutional money exits the market on these rigged up days, the dumb money retail investor buys into the market with dreams of riches just like they did with Pets.com in 2000, McMansions in 2005, and Bear Stearns in 2007.

The Fed has lost any credibility they ever thought they deserved by delaying this meaningless insignificant interest rate increase for the last three years, so they will make this token increase in December come hell or high water. They want to give themselves some leeway for easing again when this debt saturated global economy implodes in the near future. The Fed is trapped by their own cowardice and capture by the Wall Street cabal. If they raise rates the USD will strengthen even more than it has already. The USD is already at 11 year highs. It has appreciated by 25% in the last year versus the basket of world currencies. The babbling boobs on the entertainment news channels authoritatively expound with a straight face about the rise in the dollar being due to our strong economic performance. It’s beyond laughable, as the economy has been sucking wind since the day the Fed turned off the QE spigot in October 2014.


Chart of the Day

Anyone with a working brain and an IQ over 100 (eliminates the bimbos and boobs on CNBC) can see the USD isn’t strengthening of its own accord.

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Why This Feels Like a Depression for Most People

Why This Feels Like a Depression for Most People

“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”  John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Everyone has seen the pictures of the unemployed waiting in soup lines during the Great Depression. When you try to tell a propaganda believing, willfully ignorant, mainstream media watching, math challenged consumer we are in the midst of a Greater Depression, they act as if you’ve lost your mind. They will immediately bluster about the 5.1% unemployment rate, record corporate profits, and stock market near all-time highs. The cognitive dissonance of these people is only exceeded by their inability to understand basic mathematical concepts.

The reason you don’t see huge lines of people waiting in soup lines during this Greater Depression is because the government has figured out how to disguise suffering through modern technology. During the height of the Great Depression in 1933, there were 12.8 million Americans unemployed. These were the men pictured in the soup lines. Today, there are 46 million Americans in an electronic soup kitchen line, as their food is distributed through EBT cards (with that angel of mercy JP Morgan reaping billions in profits by processing the transactions).

These 46 million people represent 14% of the U.S. population. There are 23 million households on food stamps in a nation of 123 million households. Therefore, 19% of all households in the U.S. are so poor, they require food assistance to survive. In 1933 there were approximately 126 million Americans living in 30 million households. The government didn’t keep official unemployment records until 1940, but the Department of Labor estimated 12.8 million people were unemployed during the worst year of the Great Depression or 24.9% of the labor force. By 1937 it had fallen to 14.3% or approximately 8 million people.

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Take The Opportunity To Bail Before Its Too Late

Take The Opportunity To Bail Before Its Too Late

Last week ended with the cackling hens on CNBC and the spokesmodels on Bloomberg bloviating about the temporary pothole on the road to riches. They assured their few thousand remaining viewers the 11% plunge in the stock market was caused by China and the communist government’s direct intervention in their stock market, arrest of a brokerage CEO, and threat to prosecute sellers surely cured what ails their market. The Fed and their Plunge Protection Team co-conspirators reversed the free fall, manipulating derivatives and creating a short seller covering rally back to previous week levels. The moneyed interests are desperate to retain the appearance of normality and stability, as their debt saturated system teeters on the verge of collapse.

John Hussman’s weekly letter provides sound advice for anyone looking to avoid a 50% loss in the next 18 months. The market has been overvalued for the last three years and now sits at overvaluation levels on par with 1929 and 2000. The difference is that fear has been overtaking greed in the psyches of traders. The average Joe isn’t in the market. Only the Ivy League MBA High frequency trading computer gurus are playing in this rigged market. The 1,100 point crash last Monday is what happens when arrogant young traders, fear and computer algorithms combine in a perfect storm of mindless selling. Suddenly the pompous risk takers became frightened risk averse lemmings.

The single most important thing for investors to understand here is how current market conditions differ from those that existed through the majority of the market advance of recent years. The difference isn’t valuations. On measures that are best correlated with actual subsequent 10-year S&P 500 total returns, the market has advanced from strenuous, to extreme, to obscene overvaluation, largely without consequence. The difference is that investor risk-preferences have shifted from risk-seeking to risk-aversion.

 

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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