Things That Make You Go Hmmm… Like "Nothing Being What It Seems"

Investors all over the world are confronted by markets that have been dressed up for the amusement of the crew in charge of the ship, and nobody seems to recognize what they are looking at. Sure, they look like markets, but at the same time there is an unfamiliarity that is extremely unnerving to at least a few in the gathering crowd. The majority of the mob, however, have decided that they look enough like markets to charge in blindly in the expectation that all will be as it should. Things are not as they should be. Far from it.

Everywhere one looks are signs that the markets are just monkeys dressed up in fancy costumes…

From benign inflation, housing’s recovery, improved unemployment, and sustainable profitability; Grant Williams destroys the myths of the disturbing disconnects between these “headlines” and the facts in his must-read letter…

Countries all seem far rosier when viewed through the prism of stock market performance and government bond prices than when examined realistically by means of a long, hard look at the underlying economies — particularly if the necessary adjustment is made to account for the extraordinary level of stimulus applied by all and sundry.

Which provides the perfect segue…

Raoul Pal and Remi Tetot of Global Macro Investor (one of, if not the, very best macro publications available anywhere) put this chart together for their most recent monthly and kindly gave me permission to use it.

It is without question the single best chart I’ve seen to explain the reality of all-time highs on the S&P 500 in relation to the application of trillions of stimulus dollars. This chart obviously applies solely to the USA, but no doubt we would find a similar pattern in just about all the major, QE-riddled markets.

The chart shows the S&P 500 deflated by QE — and it’s breathtaking:

There’s your all-time-high stock market, folks.

Just another primate dolled up like a sailor, I’m afraid.

Don’t follow the crowd and dive into markets just because everybody else is doing so.

That’s how monkeys end up getting hanged.

 

Full Letter below…

Ttmygh Dec 09 2013


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/Z4qpjumZdDo/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Things That Make You Go Hmmm… Like “Nothing Being What It Seems”

Investors all over the world are confronted by markets that have been dressed up for the amusement of the crew in charge of the ship, and nobody seems to recognize what they are looking at. Sure, they look like markets, but at the same time there is an unfamiliarity that is extremely unnerving to at least a few in the gathering crowd. The majority of the mob, however, have decided that they look enough like markets to charge in blindly in the expectation that all will be as it should. Things are not as they should be. Far from it.

Everywhere one looks are signs that the markets are just monkeys dressed up in fancy costumes…

From benign inflation, housing’s recovery, improved unemployment, and sustainable profitability; Grant Williams destroys the myths of the disturbing disconnects between these “headlines” and the facts in his must-read letter…

Countries all seem far rosier when viewed through the prism of stock market performance and government bond prices than when examined realistically by means of a long, hard look at the underlying economies — particularly if the necessary adjustment is made to account for the extraordinary level of stimulus applied by all and sundry.

Which provides the perfect segue…

Raoul Pal and Remi Tetot of Global Macro Investor (one of, if not the, very best macro publications available anywhere) put this chart together for their most recent monthly and kindly gave me permission to use it.

It is without question the single best chart I’ve seen to explain the reality of all-time highs on the S&P 500 in relation to the application of trillions of stimulus dollars. This chart obviously applies solely to the USA, but no doubt we would find a similar pattern in just about all the major, QE-riddled markets.

The chart shows the S&P 500 deflated by QE — and it’s breathtaking:

There’s your all-time-high stock market, folks.

Just another primate dolled up like a sailor, I’m afraid.

Don’t follow the crowd and dive into markets just because everybody else is doing so.

That’s how monkeys end up getting hanged.

 

Full Letter below…

Ttmygh Dec 09 2013


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/Z4qpjumZdDo/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Bill O’Reilly, a Famous Cannabis Critic, Lashes Out at Cannabis Critics

I wrote
Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use
 to debunk the
purported moral distinction between the psychoactive substances
that Congress has decided to ban and the psychoactive substances
that remain legal. As I discovered when I discussed the book
on The O’Reilly Factor several years ago, that show’s
host also does a pretty good job of showing how specious this
distinction is, although not on purpose. O’Reilly was at it again
last night, blowing a gasket
over The Denver Post‘s
hiring
of a marijuana editor. Although the editor, Ricardo
Baca, will oversee a wide range of marijuana-related coverage,
including the ins and outs of transforming a
countercultural symbol into a capitalist commodity, what really
offended O’Reilly was Baca’s plan to hire a cannabis critic:

The Denver Post has actually hired an editor to
promote pot. Think about this. The only reason you use weed,
outside of a medical situation, is to intoxicate yourself. And of
course that can lead to bad things: DUI, the use of harder
drugs…They’re promoting marijuana use!…

They’re hiring a critic who is going to have to ingest marijuana
and tell everybody what’s the best intoxicant to use….If you have
teenagers, do you want them to read where the best pot is in the
state?…

They’re going to tell you what the best bud is…where to buy it,
how to prune it, how to roll it. This is promoting the use of an
intoxicant by The Denver Post

When Fox News analyst Juan Williams noted that marijuana is
legal in Colorado and drew an analogy to wine reviews, O’Reilly was
puzzled. “That’s not an intoxication deal, is it?” he asked. “You
can drink wine without getting inebriated.”

Well, that depends what you mean by “inebriated.” Wine drinking
is indeed “an intoxication deal,” in the sense that one of the
things people like about wine is the psychoactive effect of the
alcohol. Nonalcoholic wines do exist, but they are far less popular
than the real thing. And the idea that drinkers experience degrees
of intoxication, while marijuana consumers do not, has no basis in
reality.

Explaining such matters to O’Reilly is like addressing an
extraterrestrial who not only has never consumed an intoxicant but
cannot comprehend why humans might want to do so. This
extraterrestrial also does not know that newspapers carry reviews
of alcoholic beverages and of the establishments that serve them,
along with intructions for making such drinks at home:

Shouldn’t they hire a booze columnist…to say, “Look, this is the
best way to get high”? “Here we can drink Bailey’s, or we can drink
gin. Here’s how you mix it.”…Why don’t you just set it up like,
“Here’s the bar in Denver where you can get the cheapest chasers
and the most gin for your money?”

Although a drink featuring gin and Bailey’s does not sound very
appealing, it is simply bizarre that O’Reilly thinks publishing
cocktail recipes would be so reckless and socially irresponsible
that no reputable periodical would ever do so. O’Reilly displays a
similar cluelessness when he deems it “absurd” that The Denver
Post
 does not want its employees to smoke pot at work
“even though we have a marijuana critic and we’re going to tell you
where to get the best bud.” Presumably he also would consider it
ridiculously inconsistent for a newspaper that reviews beer, wine,
or distilled spirits to ask its employees not to drink on the job.
But the rest of us can only scratch our heads at the derangement
caused by attempts to defend the arbitrary lines drawn by our drug
laws.

[via
The Huffington Post
]

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/10/bill-oreilly-a-famous-cannabis-critic-la
via IFTTT

Bill O'Reilly, a Famous Cannabis Critic, Lashes Out at Cannabis Critics

I wrote
Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use
 to debunk the
purported moral distinction between the psychoactive substances
that Congress has decided to ban and the psychoactive substances
that remain legal. As I discovered when I discussed the book
on The O’Reilly Factor several years ago, that show’s
host also does a pretty good job of showing how specious this
distinction is, although not on purpose. O’Reilly was at it again
last night, blowing a gasket
over The Denver Post‘s
hiring
of a marijuana editor. Although the editor, Ricardo
Baca, will oversee a wide range of marijuana-related coverage,
including the ins and outs of transforming a
countercultural symbol into a capitalist commodity, what really
offended O’Reilly was Baca’s plan to hire a cannabis critic:

The Denver Post has actually hired an editor to
promote pot. Think about this. The only reason you use weed,
outside of a medical situation, is to intoxicate yourself. And of
course that can lead to bad things: DUI, the use of harder
drugs…They’re promoting marijuana use!…

They’re hiring a critic who is going to have to ingest marijuana
and tell everybody what’s the best intoxicant to use….If you have
teenagers, do you want them to read where the best pot is in the
state?…

They’re going to tell you what the best bud is…where to buy it,
how to prune it, how to roll it. This is promoting the use of an
intoxicant by The Denver Post

When Fox News analyst Juan Williams noted that marijuana is
legal in Colorado and drew an analogy to wine reviews, O’Reilly was
puzzled. “That’s not an intoxication deal, is it?” he asked. “You
can drink wine without getting inebriated.”

Well, that depends what you mean by “inebriated.” Wine drinking
is indeed “an intoxication deal,” in the sense that one of the
things people like about wine is the psychoactive effect of the
alcohol. Nonalcoholic wines do exist, but they are far less popular
than the real thing. And the idea that drinkers experience degrees
of intoxication, while marijuana consumers do not, has no basis in
reality.

Explaining such matters to O’Reilly is like addressing an
extraterrestrial who not only has never consumed an intoxicant but
cannot comprehend why humans might want to do so. This
extraterrestrial also does not know that newspapers carry reviews
of alcoholic beverages and of the establishments that serve them,
along with intructions for making such drinks at home:

Shouldn’t they hire a booze columnist…to say, “Look, this is the
best way to get high”? “Here we can drink Bailey’s, or we can drink
gin. Here’s how you mix it.”…Why don’t you just set it up like,
“Here’s the bar in Denver where you can get the cheapest chasers
and the most gin for your money?”

Although a drink featuring gin and Bailey’s does not sound very
appealing, it is simply bizarre that O’Reilly thinks publishing
cocktail recipes would be so reckless and socially irresponsible
that no reputable periodical would ever do so. O’Reilly displays a
similar cluelessness when he deems it “absurd” that The Denver
Post
 does not want its employees to smoke pot at work
“even though we have a marijuana critic and we’re going to tell you
where to get the best bud.” Presumably he also would consider it
ridiculously inconsistent for a newspaper that reviews beer, wine,
or distilled spirits to ask its employees not to drink on the job.
But the rest of us can only scratch our heads at the derangement
caused by attempts to defend the arbitrary lines drawn by our drug
laws.

[via
The Huffington Post
]

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/10/bill-oreilly-a-famous-cannabis-critic-la
via IFTTT

Guest Post: May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor – Part 1: The Reaping

Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform blog,

“Human history seems logical in afterthought but a mystery in forethought. In every prior Fourth Turning, the catalyst was foreseeable but the climax was not.” –  The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

We are five years into the Crisis that will not resolve itself until sometime in the 2020’s. No one can predict the specific events that will fundamentally change history over the next decade, but the catalysts of debt, civic decay and global disorder were evident sixteen years ago when Strauss and Howe wrote their prophetic generational history. The volcanic eruption occurred in 2008 when the worldwide financial system blew and the molten lava continues to spew forth and flow along the Federal Reserve created channels, protecting the corrupt establishment while incinerating senior citizens, the working middle class and Millennials. Deep within the volcano the pressure is building again as the mood of the country darkens. It will blow again and the economic, social, political and military distress will catalyze into a catastrophic emergency that will tear the fabric of the country asunder. The existing social order will be swept away and replaced by a new paradigm which could be better or far worse.

“Imagine some national (and probably global) volcanic eruption, initially flowing along channels of distress that were created during the Unraveling era and further widened by the catalyst. Trying to foresee where the eruption will go once it bursts free of the channels is like trying to predict the exact fault line of an earthquake. All you know in advance is something about the molten ingredients of the climax, which could include the following:

  • Economic distress, with public debt in default, entitlement trust funds in bankruptcy, mounting poverty and unemployment, trade wars, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation (or deflation).
  • Social distress, with violence fueled by class, race, nativism, or religion and abetted by armed gangs, underground militias, and mercenaries hired by walled communities.
  • Political distress, with institutional collapse, open tax revolts, one-party hegemony, major constitutional change, secessionism, authoritarianism, and altered national borders.
  • Military distress, with war against terrorists or foreign regimes equipped with weapons of mass destruction.”

The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

Linear thinkers are incapable or unwilling to understand that history is cyclical, primarily driven by national mood changes and the interaction of generations entering different stages in their 80 year life cycle. We’ve seen this story before, but those who lived through the last Fourth Turning have mostly died out, and our techno-narcissistic populace has absolutely no interest in understanding history beyond last night’s episode of Duck Dynasty. The mood of the country during a Turning is often captured in literature and/or film produced during that period.

The last Fourth Turning encompassed the period from the Great Crash in 1929 through the Great Depression and World War II, ending in 1946 with a new world order. Four novels written during this Crisis captured the dystopian nature of the time, reflecting the fear, pain, anger, brutality, and courageousness of the common man during that perilous period. Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath (1939), Orwell’s 1984 (written during WWII), and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy (written from 1937 through 1949) are masterpieces of literature which captured the aura of the times in which they were penned. Only one of the novels was brought to film during the Crisis, with John Ford’s brilliant Grapes of Wrath screen adaptation capturing the suffering and desperation of common folk during the Great Depression.

Most of what passes for literature and film these days is nothing more than glorified commercials or corporate created twaddle designed for narcissistic, mindless, teenage girls. Many will dismiss Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and the film adaptations as nothing more than run of the mill teenager nonsense. They are making a huge mistake. Decades from now, if we make the right choices during this Fourth Turning, The Hunger Games will be viewed as the novels and films that captured the darkening, rebellious mood of the Crisis. It is not a coincidence the first novel was published in September 2008. The worldwide financial meltdown initiated by the Wall Street financial elite and their paid for cronies in the nation’s capital, occurred in September 2008 and marked the commencement of this Fourth Turning. Collin
s has brilliantly created a dystopian nightmare that combines the shallowness and superficiality of our reality TV culture with our never ending wars of choice and rise of our surveillance state, while blending the decadence and debauchery of the declining Roman Empire. She also unwittingly places her characters in their proper generational roles during a Fourth Turning Crisis.

Collins was a military brat who was fortunate enough to have a father that taught her the truth about historical events, not the propaganda taught in our public schools today.

“He was career Air Force, a military specialist, a historian, and a doctor of political science. When I was a kid, he was gone for a year in Viet Nam. It was very important to him that we understood about certain aspects of life. So, it wasn’t enough to visit a battlefield, we needed to know why the battle occurred, how it played out, and the consequences. Fortunately, he had a gift for presenting history as a fascinating story. He also seemed to have a good sense of exactly how much a child could handle, which is quite a bit.”

She learned lessons about war, poverty, oppression, and the brutality and corruption of the ruling classes. Her knowledge of history, the visual images of reality shows and the Iraq War displayed on TV created the idea for her Hunger Games trilogy.

“I was channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage when Katniss’ story came to me. One night I’m sitting there flipping around and on one channel there’s a group of young people competing for, I don’t know, money maybe? And on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.”

The central storyline of The Hunger Games is there are twelve districts subservient to the Capitol in the totalitarian nation of Panem. The country consists of the affluent Capitol, located in the Rocky Mountains, and twelve desperately poor districts ruled by the Capitol. The Capitol is lavishly opulent and technologically advanced, but the twelve districts are in varying states of poverty. As punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol wherein twelve of the districts were defeated and the thirteenth purportedly destroyed, one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are selected by lottery to compete in the “Hunger Games” on an annual basis.

 

The Games are a televised spectacle, with the participants, called “tributes”, being forced to fight to the death in a treacherous outdoor arena. It’s a combination of American Idol, Survivor, and Middle Eastern warfare. The victorious tribute and his or her home district are then remunerated with extra food and supplies. The objective of the Hunger Games is to provide superficial reality TV entertainment for the vacuous small-minded masses in the Capitol and serve as a constant reminder to the Districts of the Capitol’s supremacy and supposed omnipotence. The Capitol ruling with an iron fist over its 13 Districts is clearly founded upon the British Empire running roughshod over the 13 American colonies and harvesting resources and taxes to maintain their wealth, power and control. Collins utilizes her knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman history and merging it with our degraded shallow TV culture to meld a dystopian nightmare of brutality, child murder, voyeuristic sadism, and a fragile, rotting empire.

 

 “A significant influence would have to be the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. The myth tells how in punishment for past deeds, Athens periodically had to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they were thrown in the Labyrinth and devoured by the monstrous Minotaur. Even as a kid, I could appreciate how ruthless this was. Crete was sending a very clear message: “Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.” And the thing is, it was allowed; the parents sat by powerless to stop it. Theseus, who was the son of the king, volunteered to go. I guess in her own way, Katniss is a futuristic Theseus.

In keeping with the classical roots, I send my tributes into an updated version of the Roman gladiator games, which entails a ruthless government forcing people to fight to the death as popular entertainment. The world of Panem, particularly the Capitol, is loaded with Roman references. Panem itself comes from the expression “Panem et Circenses” which translates into ‘Bread and Circuses’.” Suzanne Collins

Any similarities between propaganda posters in Panem and propaganda in America are purely coincidental, I’m sure.

 “At least once every human should have to run for his life, to teach him that milk does not come from supermarkets, that safety does not come from policemen, that ‘news’ is not something that happens to other people. He might learn how his ancestors lived and that he himself is no different–in the crunch his life depends on his agility, alertness, and personal resourcefulness.”  – Robert Heinlein

The Reaping of Wealth

 

“War, terrible war. Widows, orphans, a motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. Thirteen districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them. Brother turned on brother until nothing remained. And then came the peace, hard fought, sorely won. A people rose up from the ashes and a new era was born. But freedom has a cost. When the traitors were defeated, we swore as a nation we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed, that each year, the various districts of Panem would offer up in tribute, one young man and woman, to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage and sacrifice. The lone victor, bathed in riches, would serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.”President Snow – Hunger Games

A major theme in the novels is the tremendous wealth inequality between the Capitol and most of the districts. District 12, the home of Katniss Eve
rdeen the protagonist, is the most desperately poor. District 12 is located in the Appalachian region of the former USA. They are tasked with providing the Capitol resources obtained from dangerous mines. The population lives a bleak existence in poverty and squalor, with starvation always looming like an apparition of death. The districts are essentially slave plantations to be pillaged for whatever the dictatorial Capitol demands.  T
he districts exist to harvest resources, such as fish, coal, lumber, crops, and gems, all sent to fulfill their quotas.  Many districts, such as 12 and 11, don’t have enough coal to power their own district or enough food to feed their citizens. Districts 1, 2 and 4 are closer and more allied with the Capitol, resulting in them receiving more support, better food, consumer goods, and military protection. The wealth inequality between the ruling class and the working class in the districts is the primary cause of discontent and increasing rebelliousness.

The parallels with our corporate fascist surveillance state are unmistakable. The wealth and power in our country is concentrated in the hands of ruling elite who primarily reside in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C. and the financial capital of New York City. The top 1% control 42% of the nation’s financial wealth, while the bottom 80% control less than 5% of the financial wealth.   

 Table 1: Income, net worth, and financial worth in the U.S. by percentile, in 2010 dollars

Wealth or income class

Mean household income

Mean household net worth

Mean household financial (non-home) wealth

Top 1 percent

$1,318,200

$16,439,400

$15,171,600

Top 20 percent

$226,200

$2,061,600

$1,719,800

60th-80th percentile

$72,000

$216,900

$100,700

40th-60th percentile

$41,700

$61,000

$12,200

Bottom 40 percent

$17,300

-$10,600

-$14,800

 

From Wolff (2012); only mean figures are available, not medians.  Note that income and wealth are separate measures; so, for example, the top 1% of income-earners is not exactly the same group of people as the top 1% of wealth-holders, although there is considerable overlap.

The concentration of wealth in the hands of the few if achieved through superior work ethic and/or intellectual advantage would not cause discontent among the masses. Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were admired for creating businesses and employing people. They earned their wealth. Today, it has become clear to all critical thinking people that a small cabal of super-rich men constituting an invisible ruling class have captured our financial and political system. They are the .1% who run the Wall Street banks, control the Federal Reserve, buy off the politicians of both parties, and pay lobbyists to write the laws and tax regulations. They use their ill-gotten wealth to maintain the status quo and further pillage the wealth of the working class through financial market manipulation, man-made inflation and outright theft. As 47 million Americans depend upon food stamps and other welfare programs to get by and real unemployment exceeds 20%, the wealth inequality in the nation has reached levels only seen in 1929, prior to the Great Crash outset of the last Fourth Turning. The mounting anger and discontent among the former working middle class is palatable. Those at the top of the food chain have rigged the system and get richer by the day. They bribe the lower classes with welfare benefits, taken from the working middle class, in an effort to stave off riots in the streets.         

 

 

Rentier capitalism, the economic practice of parasitic monopolization of access to physical, financial, and intellectual property, has replaced free market capitalism, with the rentier class generating billions of illicit financialization profits while contributing nothing to society. We’ve become a modern day Panem, an imperialistic state thriving on the slave labor of other countries and inflicting our bastardized form of democracy at the point of Tomahawk missiles. In order to survive, Katniss defiantly and illegally hunts outside the District 12 fence perimeter and the famished citizens openly defy the law with their black market trading at the Hob. Desperate times lead to desperate measures.

When people despair, laws designed to maintain the status quo are deemed inconsequential by the peasants. You can see this happening in our society today. Welfare fraud among the lower classes is rampant. Bartering and working under the table for cash to avoid the crushing tax burden is growing. The rise of bitcoin as an alternative currency and the growing popularity of having possession of physical gold and silver is a reaction to the banker/politician fiat currency debt scheme to impoverish the masses. When the people see the bankers (Jamie Dimon) and former politicians (Jon Corzine) breaking laws with impunity, they feel no obligation to obey laws designed to keep them under the thumb of the ruling class. The fallacy of all men being created equal, with the American dream achievable for everyone, is still propagated by the government media propaganda mouthpieces. You’d have to be asleep to believe it.

In reality the ultra-rich have captured the system and have stacked the deck in their favor. This theme is captured in the Hunger Games during the reaping process, which is supposed to be random, with rich and poor equally likely to get chosen. In reality, the poor are much more likely than the rich to be reaped as tributes. In exchange for extra rations of food and oil necessary to keep from starving or freezing to death, called tesserae, those children eligible for the Hunger Games can enter their names into the reaping additional times. Most children of poor families have to take tesserae to survive, so the children of poor families have more entries in the reaping than children of wealthy families who need no tesserae. The odds are never in their favor. The current version of the Hunger Games for our youth is loading them up with government peddled student loan debt, with no jobs available when they graduate, leaving them enslaved in unpayable debt.  

The rich who do become tributes from the more prosperous districts have an additional advantage, because they are often trained to take part in the Games and volunteer to do so. They are bigger, stronger, well fed and groomed to win. The poor tributes face certain death. The fact is you can only push people so far before they fight back. The arrogance and hubris of the rich governing class leads them to disregard the misery of the lowly peasants, while they intensify their pillaging and burning of the countryside. Eventually a spark ignites a revolutionary spirit and unleashes a torrent of violence and retribution. History is ripe with instances of the downtrodden masses rising up and throwing off the yoke of authoritarian despots. Fourth Turnings are when the existing social order is swept away in an avalanche of violence and bloodshed.              

Bread, Circuses & Reality TV

“What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?”Katniss Everdeen – Hunger Games

The name of the nation – Panem, derives from the Latin phrase panem et circenses, which translates into ‘bread and circuses’. The idiom is meant to describe entertainment used to distract public attention from the corruption and vices of the governing class. By the government providing basic food and ample entertainment, the citizens voluntarily sacrifice liberties and rights for safety, security, and sustenance. The debauched occupants of the Capitol are the wealthiest and most decadent of all Panem, and the city’s affluence is fueled by the compulsory labor of the districts. The degenerates of the Capitol are known for their “creative” outfits, outrageous hair and ridiculous sense of fashion, even to the extent of dying the color of their own skin, or having whiskers implanted. Food and amusement are major drivers of the Hunger Games plot. The impoverished citizens, particularly in Districts 12 and 11 are on the verge of starvation, while the Capitol has food in abundance and throws lavish parties with extravagant and copious quantities of cuisine.

The superficial decadent upper class in the Capitol embraced overindulgence to such an extreme they purposely drank a concoction which would force them to throw up, so they could consume more. The analogy to the Roman vomitoriums during the depraved final days of their declining empire is distinct. Today in America, 47 million lower class Americans are reliant upon food stamps to be fed, while the majority are left to ingest processed poison packaged as food by mega-corporations and relentlessly marketed on television to a dumbed down populace. The ultra-rich dine on caviar and champagne in their penthouse suites, mansions in the Hamptons, or make reservations at restaurants not available to the 99.9%.

Appearances are extremely important in the post-apocalyptic pretentious world of the Hunger Games. Style and ostentatious fashion are everything to the affluent citizens of the plutocratic Capitol. It is natural to tattoo and dye their bodies’ in bright colors, as well as undergo plastic surgery to improve their looks. Some people of the Capitol have gems implanted in their skin, as well as talons. Capitol residents regularly wear wigs in a multitude of shocking colors. The degradation of our society can be seen in the worship of Hollywood created stars and pop singers freaks like Lady Gaga. The filthy rich deform their bodies with plastic surgery to change their natural appearance. By mutilating their bodies with surgery and tattoos, the media glorified fashionistas set the tone for a cultural decay. The lower classes can’t afford expensive plastic surgery, so they cover themselves in hideous tattoos in a pathetic attempt at individuality, when they are just conforming like lemmings to what they are told is trendy. The vain and narcissistic are too ignorant to realize their worship of celebrity and purchase of the latest fashions in clothes and jewelry are the sheep-like behavior of conformists.

The voyeuristic exploitation of children is taken to an extreme in The Hunger Games with their terror, suffering and slaughter televised for the enjoyment of a blood thirsty public. Murder as mass entertainment in a reality TV game show format illustrates a truly depraved culture. The American TV culture turns news, tragedy, childhood and war into morbid reality TV entertainment. The news, as reported by the corporate legacy media, is nothing more than propaganda generated by the establishment to support their continued control over the financial and governmental levers. It is designed to distract, misinform and obscure the truth.  What the news cameras show is not reality and facades are more consequential than the truth – a Wag the Dog world. Virtually half of prime time TV is a staged voyeuristic display of moronic triviality, requiring no thought and providing a form of passive sedation for low IQ imbeciles. The sexual exploitation of children in shows such as Toddlers & Tiaras and Honey Boo Boo is considered normal in a thoroughly abnormal society. Television is nothing but show business and we are amusing ourselves to death, as revealed by Neil Postman.    

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.” – Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves to Death

The Hunger Games are televised and discussed incessantly in Panem’s media, just as the pointless Iraq War and faux War on Terror are ceaselessly analyzed, evaluated and hyped by talking heads with bleached teeth, like the smarmy Caesar Flickerman in the Hunger Games movie. The Roman gladiatorial games and the televised “Shock & Awe” of obliterating the city of Baghdad with thousands of cruise missiles are both forms of barbaric entertainment, with the poor sacrificed on the altar of entertainment. The ruling class have successfully dehumanized our culture and turned real people into commodities to be manipulated, used and even killed for profit. Their value becomes determined by how much entertainment they provide, and as such they lose their identities as people. Reality television is a form of objectification. The world has become a stage for our Contoll
ers, their stage managers on Madison Avenue and the mainstream media.       

“Television is our culture’s principal mode of knowing about itself. Therefore — and this is the critical point — how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged. It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse. It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails.” ? Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves to Death

We’ve spent the last five decades learning to love our oppression, adoring our technology, glorying in our distaste for reading books, and wilfully embracing our ignorance. Huxley’s vision of a population, passively sleep walking through lives of self- absorption, triviality, drug induced gratification, materialism and irrelevance has come to pass. Only in the last two decades has Orwell’s darker vision of oppression, fear, surveillance, hate and intimidation begun to be implemented by the ruling class. We’ve become a people controlled by pleasure and pain, utilized in varying degrees by those in power. Stay tuned for our modern day Hunger Games after this commercial for your very own Duck Dynasty Chia Pet.

In Part 2 of this article – May the Odds Ever Be in Your Favor – Hope & Defiance, I’ll address how Edward Snowden is our mockingjay who has ignited a fire that will lead to revolution and the next phase of this Fourth Turning.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/_7SRsEgR4S8/story01.htm Tyler Durden

When Bitcoin Is Not In The Hands Of The Bagholder

If the Bitcoin marketplace is this excited to accept people’s fiat – especially those who have not blown up any bailed out banks, traded on SAC-type information, or abused the NAR’s exemption from anti-money laundering provisions – one wonders just how is all the buying interest being funded? And also, whatever happened to the no transaction friction pledge surrounding the digital currency? Actually, scratch that: if there are no transactions, there can be no frictions.

Perhaps the delayed response had something to do with a purchase that took place near the bottom of the most recent selloff?

We wonder: is this how Coinbase would feel about selling at the “top” especially if Bitcoin’s USD value were to be cut in half in two days, as happened just this past weekend?


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/QO7xBxnLFw4/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Tonight, on The Independents: Budget Deal, GM Bailout, Organ Sales, Uruguay Legalization, and Nelson Mandela's Economics

They airbrushed by afro. |||Tonight at 9 pm Eastern, your favorite
new cable news show
, Fox Business Network’s The
Independents
will dicuss the hot-of-the-presses

bipartisan budget deal
hammered out between Rep. Paul Ryan
(R-Wisconsin) and Rep. Patty Murray (D-Washington), and whether
increasing federal spending by $45 billion is worth the
pain-avoidance of not having budget or debt ceiling fights for a
while.

Also on tap: How’s that
GM bailout looking now
? Uruguay becomes the first country in
the 21st century to
legalize marijuana
! What does
Steve Jobs’s preferential liver treatment
tell us about the
ethics of organ markets? And if Obama shaking hands with a Castro
is like
Chamberlain pressing the flesh with Hitler
, what do we get to
call the historic
McCain-Qaddafi tent-party
?

All this and more, with your hostess with the mostest Kennedy,  plus
Matt
Welch
 and Kmele Foster, in
addition to a buncha fabulous guests. 

Hit up The
Independents
 website for some video from last night’s
debut broadcast; heckle us live on Twitter @IndependentsFBN (we’ll
read out a few), follow us on Facebook, and
consider this your open thread!

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/10/tonight-on-the-independents-budget-deal
via IFTTT

Tonight, on The Independents: Budget Deal, GM Bailout, Organ Sales, Uruguay Legalization, and Nelson Mandela’s Economics

They airbrushed by afro. |||Tonight at 9 pm Eastern, your favorite
new cable news show
, Fox Business Network’s The
Independents
will dicuss the hot-of-the-presses

bipartisan budget deal
hammered out between Rep. Paul Ryan
(R-Wisconsin) and Rep. Patty Murray (D-Washington), and whether
increasing federal spending by $45 billion is worth the
pain-avoidance of not having budget or debt ceiling fights for a
while.

Also on tap: How’s that
GM bailout looking now
? Uruguay becomes the first country in
the 21st century to
legalize marijuana
! What does
Steve Jobs’s preferential liver treatment
tell us about the
ethics of organ markets? And if Obama shaking hands with a Castro
is like
Chamberlain pressing the flesh with Hitler
, what do we get to
call the historic
McCain-Qaddafi tent-party
?

All this and more, with your hostess with the mostest Kennedy,  plus
Matt
Welch
 and Kmele Foster, in
addition to a buncha fabulous guests. 

Hit up The
Independents
 website for some video from last night’s
debut broadcast; heckle us live on Twitter @IndependentsFBN (we’ll
read out a few), follow us on Facebook, and
consider this your open thread!

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/10/tonight-on-the-independents-budget-deal
via IFTTT

Tuesday (Un)Humor: Selfies At A Funeral

Probably the largest and most watched funeral (memorial service) of the modern era and it appears President Obama just could not resist a selfie with Denmark’s leggy blond PM (oh and David Cameron)… as an aside, it seems FLOTUS was not amused.

 

h/t Selfies At A Funeral

 

FLOTUS was not happy…

(h/t NY Post)


If you liked your seat, you can’t keep your seat!

(h/t NY Post)

Seems like someone spoiled the “party”


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/CzF_Cregu5s/story01.htm Tyler Durden

The Ultimate Guide To December’s FOMC Meeting: Breaking Down The Participants

Submitted by F.F.Wiley of Cyniconomics blog,

In “Why the Fed Won’t Taper in December,” we pretended to write the first paragraph of the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) statement for next week’s meeting. By thinking about the likely mix of upgrades and downgrades to its assessment of the economy, which is the crux of that paragraph, we argued that we can find clues to policy decisions. Our results tell us to expect a deferral of the committee’s tentative plans to taper its securities purchase program.

fomc

You may suggest, though, that economic data doesn’t always tell you what the FOMC will do. Because we agree, we’ve also taken a different approach: listening to Fedspeak and working through the math on the committee’s consensus view. This, too, leads us to think there won’t be a taper this month. Here’s our math, starting with the biggest QE supporters and ending with Chairman Bernanke:

 

4 staunch QE cheerleaders

  • Janet Yellen (Governor)
  • Bill Dudley (New York)
  • Eric Rosengren (Boston)
  • Narayana Kocherlakota (Minneapolis)

These four have consistently (or since a dramatic change of thinking in Kocherlakota’s case) advocated the benefits of QE and downplayed the risks. There’s little indication that any of them wants to taper until we have a strong, broad recovery.

5 QE hawks who wanted a taper in September

  • Esther George (Kansas City)
  • Richard Fisher (Dallas)
  • Charles Plosser (Philadelphia)
  • Jeffrey Lacker (Richmond)
  • Sandra Pianalto (Cleveland)

George is the only 2013 voter in this group and cast a dissenting vote in September, as she has all year long. Pianalto hasn’t been as hawkish as the others, but made it known in September that she favored a taper. Fisher and Plosser also discussed their disagreement with the decision not to taper, while Lacker voted against QE3 in 2012 and says he would have tapered “awhile ago.”

All five will surely argue for tapering and may bang their fists clear through the table this time, judging by Fisher’s impassioned speech yesterday. But that’s not enough to change the outcome; this group is no more influential today than it was in September.

2 QE centrists who tell us it’s on the table

  • James Bullard (St. Louis)
  • Dennis Lockhart (Atlanta)

While Bullard and Lockhart supported September’s non-taper, both have speculated about a December taper recently and helped lift expectations that this might be the month. But does that mean they’ll move off the center and play for the hawks? We don’t think so.

Bullard is intently focused on the FOMC’s 2% inflation target and registered his first official dissent in June because he wanted more of a commitment to battle this year’s disinflation. In September, he went so far as to say he wouldn’t support a taper until seeing inflation head back towards the target. He later dropped this condition. Yesterday, he mapped out his final pre-meeting thinking, saying that the FOMC could conceivably begin in December and then “pause tapering” if inflation didn’t pick up.

If you’re anything like us, you’re shaking your head at Bullard’s latest and wondering where this goes next – do we then get a threshold to establish forward guidance for the pause on the taper?  (Remember, we’re talking about a change from 85 to maybe 70 or 75 billion dollars a month on a program that’s into its third trillion; it’s hard not to be cynical.) In any case, we’re guessing the taper/pause taper scenario doesn’t have enough oomph to set the committee on a new course. What it does, though, is tell us that Bullard’s willing to follow Bernanke in either direction.

Lockhart also recently tweaked his stance, but marginally. His confidence has grown to the point that he’s “pretty confident” we’ve achieved a sustainable recovery. By our count, though, each of his hints that we no longer need as much QE are typically matched by about two caveats. He stresses uncertainties and recently downplayed the information in both November’s strong jobs report and the inventory-distorted Q3 GDP report.

What’s more, one of his conditions for a taper is to be “quite confident” that the economy’s on the right track. We didn’t check a dictionary for this, but we think that “quite confident” lies a few conviction units beyond “pretty confident.” Overall, Lockhart sounds like someone who, like Bullard, wants to retain flexibility.

5 QE centrists and doves who supported September’s non-taper

  • Daniel Tarullo (Governor)
  • Jeremy Stein (Governor)
  • Jerome Powell (Governor)
  • Charles Evans (Chicago)
  • John Williams (San Francisco)

Although Evans and Williams are known as doves, both endorsed Bernanke’s June message about the case for a late 2013 tapering, while Evans even said he was willing to “be persuaded” to taper in September. Stein and Powell were both “comfortable” with a September taper. But Evans, Stein and Powell all voted for the non-taper, as did Tarullo. Williams didn’t have a vote but supported the decision.

Like Bullard
and Lockhart, this group is unlikely to produce a new QE hawk. Evans says he’s “open-minded” but prefers to wait. Williams needs to be “completely confident” of the economy’s track, which we’re thinking might equal the sum of “pretty confident” and “quite confident.” Powell conditions the taper on strengthening demand, and we’ve seen just the opposite in reports such as last week’s GDP release.

Stein is likely to remain “comfortable” with an immediate taper and probably prefers to see this happen. He may be the biggest wild card of the bunch. Up until now, though, he’s been more focused on process and communication than which month the taper begins, which he argues isn’t especially important. Without evidence to suggest a change in thinking, we have to conclude he’s an unlikely character to push the decision in either direction.

Tarullo is the quietest of the Governors when it comes to monetary policy, due to his bigger role leading the Fed’s bank supervision and regulatory efforts. That said, he’s a firm QE believer with a dovish record and stresses the data dependency of a taper.

1 lame duck chairman

  • Ben Bernanke

The bottom line is that no-one seems to have jumped with both feet from September’s non-taper camp to December’s taper camp, suggesting that Bernanke won’t be forced into a move. On the other hand, the majority of the committee would line up behind him if he genuinely wanted to taper. The five QE hawks and Stein wouldn’t need convincing, and at least four others (Bullard, LockhartPowell and Evans) seem willing to defer to the chairman.

In other words, it really comes down to Bernanke. In June, he announced there would probably be a tapering later this year. December is his last chance to make good on that prediction. We doubt he will, though, for several reasons.

First, Bernanke never attaches much importance to QE’s risks and side effects. His argument that QE is relatively harmless might make you wonder why he wants to wind it down. He may have fully expected the economy to strengthen more than it has and predicted the taper on that basis. Alternatively, he may have been trying to hold the committee together by moving slightly toward the hawks and against his own biases. There are other possible reasons as well, such as concerns about collateral shortages. But whether Bernanke’s motives were economic, political, technical, or all of the above, words and actions are two completely different things. You might think of that June prediction as being similar to the New Year’s resolutions you’ll soon be making. They’ll sound great on January 1, but six months later? Not so much.

Second, other board members have already backed off the warning to expect a tapering this year. Take Evans and Williams, for example. Their recent comments suggest they’re not yet ready, and they certainly don’t feel locked in by earlier statements. With these ideological allies having already abandoned their resolutions, it’s easier for Bernanke to follow suit.

Finally, there’s another 2014 consideration that’s more than just a resolution: the fact that Bernanke won’t be part of the next meeting while Yellen takes the chair. It would be bad manners to begin the taper without Yellen being fully on board, but she just doesn’t seem interested. Recall that her nomination came through just one week before September’s non-taper. If you’re trying to make sense of this year’s mixed messages, the pending leadership change may be the best explanation of all.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/lqj377Mq124/story01.htm Tyler Durden