Listen to this week’s “The Financial Physician” radio show.-Lou Click on the upper right corner PLAY arrow on player as the middle PLAY arrow is not working.
Listen to this week’s “The Financial Physician” radio show.-Lou Click on the upper right corner PLAY arrow on player as the middle PLAY arrow is not working.
As reported on last week’s radio show.-Lou
No cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security in 2016?
Lost in the news surrounding the release of the 2015 Social Security Trusteesreport is the likelihood that Social Security beneficiaries won’t see a cost-of-living adjustment increase, or COLA, in 2016. According to the Trustees, Social Security beneficiaries can expect to receive a COLA increase of 0.0 percent. That’s right … a goose egg.
But first, let’s review the more-discussed news from the report. While the outlook for Social Security’s combined trust funds is slightly improved, the overall trend for program finances is still very negative. The Trustees report a one-year improvement in the estimated exhaustion dates for both Social Security’s Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), or retirement, trust fund (from 2034 to 2035), as well as its combined OASI and Disability Insurance (DI) trust funds (from 2033 to 2034). The Trustees again project the disability trust fund will be depleted in the fourth quarter of 2016 — just in time for the general elections.
While most think of Social Security as a single program, the OASI and DI trust funds are legally separate because they are designed to serve different purposes and different populations. This split is of urgent importance for DI beneficiaries, as — absent legislative action to shore up the program’s finances — benefits will automatically be cut by almost 20% upon the trust fund’s depletion, since by law the program can only pay out in benefits what it receives in revenue.
Returning to the issue of the COLA, as the Trustees point out on page 113 of the report:
“Volatility in oil prices has resulted in substantial volatility in recent cost-of-living adjustments. A large cost-of-living adjustment in December 2008 was followed by no cost-of-living adjustments in December 2009 and December 2010. More recent volatility in oil prices has again affected the CPI. As a result, projections under the intermediate- and high-cost assumptions do not have a cost-of-living adjustment for December 2015.”
Unless there is significant inflation over the next few months, Social Security beneficiaries shouldn’t expect a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in their benefits for 2016. On the bright side, for those working and paying into the Social Security system via payroll taxes, when there isn’t a COLA increase, there’s also no corresponding increase in the amount of wage income subject to Social Security payroll taxes, currently $118,500. While that may be little comfort to those living on Social Security benefits, take heart that the Trustees do expect a COLA for 2017.
Where does it end? Everyone should have a credit watch service. I have Lifelock. I recently had $14,000 stolen from my bank account. Someone in California used my ATM card (it was still in my wallet) to charge $14k in five Apple stores.-Lou
Hackers stole Social Security numbers from 21.5 million, gov’t admits
Hackers swiped Social Security numbers from 21.5 million people — as well as fingerprint records and other information from background check investigations — in the massive breach earlier this year of federal personnel files, the government acknowledged Thursday.
The Office of Personnel Management included the findings in a statement Thursday on the investigation into a pair of major hacks believed carried out by China.
“The team has now concluded with high confidence that sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of 21.5 million individuals, was stolen from the background investigation databases,” the agency said of the second breach, which affected background investigation files.
OPM said it is “highly likely” anyone who underwent a background investigation through the agency since 2000 has been affected. The 21.5 million number mostly includes those who applied for one, but also 1.8 million others, “predominantly spouses or co-habitants of applicants.”
OPM said these records include “findings from interviews conducted by background investigators and approximately 1.1 million include fingerprints.” The agency said they have no information at this point to suggest “any misuse or further dissemination of the information that was stolen from OPM’s systems.”
Despite agency pledges to help those affected with credit monitoring and other assistance, the latest numbers are sure to deepen concerns about the risks those affected face.
The OPM statement Thursday pertained to a second breach, discovered in May — separate from one discovered in April which affected more than 4 million people.
Some people were affected by both breaches and the government estimated the total impacted by both was 22.1 million.
The larger breach impacted background investigation records of current, former and prospective federal workers and contractors. OPM acknowledged a wide range of information is potentially at risk:
“OPM has determined that the types of information in these records include identification details such as Social Security Numbers; residency and educational history; employment history; information about immediate family and other personal and business acquaintances; health, criminal and financial history; and other details. Some records also include findings from interviews conducted by background investigators and fingerprints. Usernames and passwords that background investigation applicants used to fill out their background investigation forms were also stolen.”
Your best investment may be a safe. Banks pay you nothing to “hold” your money so why keep it there? This is very sad.-Lou
“Heartbreaking” Scene Unfolds At Greek Banks As Pensioners Clamor For Cash
From: Zero Hedge
1,000 Greek bank branches chanced a stampede in order to open their doors to the country’s retirees on Wednesday.
The scene was somewhat chaotic as pensioners formed long lines and the country’s elderly attempted to squeeze through the doors in order to access pension payments.
As Bloomberg reports, payouts were rationed and disbursals were limited according to last name. Here’s more:
It’s a day of fresh indignities for the people of Greece.
About a third of the nation’s depleted banks cracked open their doors after being closed for three days. But all they did was ration pension payments, hours after the country became the first advanced economy to miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund and its bailout program expired.
On the third day of capital controls, a few dozen pensioners lined up by 7 a.m. at a central Athens branch of the National Bank of Greece, an hour before opening time. They were to receive a maximum of 120 euros ($133), compared with the average monthly payment of about 600 euros. Many left with nothing after the manager said only those with last names starting with the letters A through K would get paid.
“Not only will I have to queue for hours at the bank in the hope of getting 120 euros, but I’ll have a two-hour round trip,” said Dimitris Danaos, 77, a retired local government worker who was making the bus journey from his home outside the Greek capital to the suburb of Glyfada.
AFP has more color:
In chaotic scenes, thousands of angry elderly Greeks on Wednesday besieged the nation’s crisis-hit banks, which have reopened to allow them to withdraw vital cash from their state pensions.
“Let them go to hell!” said one pensioner waiting to get his money, after failed talks between Athens and international creditors sparked a week-long banking shutdown.
The Greek government, which closed the banks and imposed strict capital controls after cash machines ran dry, has temporarily reopened almost 1,000 branches to allow pensioners without cards to withdraw 120 euros ($133) to last the rest of the week.
The move has again sparked lengthy queues at banks across Greece — and outrage from many retirees who are regarded as among the most vulnerable in society, exposed to a vicious and lengthy economic downturn.
Under banking restrictions imposed all week, ordinary Greeks can withdraw up to 60 euros a day for each credit or debit card — but many of the elderly population do not have cards.
Another customer, a retired mariner who asked not to be named, told AFP he had no cash to buy crucial medicine for his sick wife.
“I worked for 50 years on the sea and now I am the beggar for 120 euros,” he said.
“I took out 120 euros — but I have no money for medication for my wife, who had an operation and is ill,” he added.
Here’s a look at the scene at National Bank in Athens courtesy of The Telegraph:
As we outlined in detail earlier this morning, the latest polls show a slim majority of Greeks plan to vote “no” in the upcoming referendum (which, as far as we know, will still go on). Many analysts and commentators say a “oxi” vote would likely lead to a euro exit and with it, far more pain for the country’s retirees.
Economic collapse in Greece is causing all kind of mayhem. Lines at empty ATMs, and now stripping stores bare of goods. Are you prepared for it happening here?-Lou
2015 is 1984.-Lou
The Emergence Of Orwellian Newspeak And The Death Of Free Speech
“If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it…. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.” ? Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.
In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.
Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.
It’s political correctness disguised as tolerance, civility and love, but what it really amounts to is the chilling of free speech and the demonizing of viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite.
As a society, we’ve become fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful, closed-minded or any of the other toxic labels that carry a badge of shame today. The result is a nation where no one says what they really think anymore, at least if it runs counter to the prevailing views. Intolerance is the new scarlet letter of our day, a badge to be worn in shame and humiliation, deserving of society’s fear, loathing and utter banishment from society.
For those “haters” who dare to voice a different opinion, retribution is swift: they will be shamed, shouted down, silenced, censored, fired, cast out and generally relegated to the dust heap of ignorant, mean-spirited bullies who are guilty of various “word crimes.”
We have entered a new age where, as commentator Mark Steyn notes, “we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells” and “the forces of ‘tolerance’ are intolerant of anything less than full-blown celebratory approval.”
In such a climate of intolerance, there can be no freedom speech, expression or thought.
Yet what the forces of political correctness fail to realize is that they owe a debt to the so-called “haters” who have kept the First Amendment robust. From swastika-wearing Neo-Nazis marching through Skokie, Illinois, and underaged cross burners to “God hates fags” protesters assembled near military funerals, those who have inadvertently done the most to preserve the right to freedom of speech for all have espoused views that were downright unpopular, if not hateful.
Until recently, the U.S. Supreme Court has reiterated that the First Amendment prevents the government from proscribing speech, or even expressive conduct, because it disapproves of the ideas expressed. However, that long-vaunted, Court-enforced tolerance for “intolerant” speech has now given way to a paradigm in which the government can discriminate freely against First Amendment activity that takes place within a government forum. Justifying such discrimination as “government speech,” the Court ruled that the Texas Dept. of Motor Vehicles could refuse to issue specialty license plate designs featuring a Confederate battle flag. Why? Because it was deemed offensive.
The Court’s ruling came on the heels of a shooting in which a 21-year-old white gunman killed nine African-Americans during a Wednesday night Bible study at a church in Charleston, N.C. The two events, coupled with the fact that gunman Dylann Roof was reportedly pictured on several social media sites with a Confederate flag, have resulted in an emotionally charged stampede to sanitize the nation’s public places of anything that smacks of racism, starting with the Confederate flag and ballooning into a list that includes the removal of various Civil War monuments.
These tactics are nothing new. This nation, birthed from puritanical roots, has always struggled to balance its love of liberty with its moralistic need to censor books, music, art, language, symbols etc. As author Ray Bradbury notes, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”
Indeed, thanks to the rise of political correctness, the population of book burners, censors, and judges has greatly expanded over the years so that they run the gamut from left-leaning to right-leaning and everything in between. By eliminating words, phrases and symbols from public discourse, the powers-that-be are sowing hate, distrust and paranoia. In this way, by bottling up dissent, they are creating a pressure cooker of stifled misery that will eventually blow.
For instance, the word “Christmas” is now taboo in the public schools, as is the word “gun.” Even childish drawings of soldiers result in detention or suspension under rigid zero tolerance policies. On college campuses, trigger warnings are being used to alert students to any material they might read, see or hear that might upset them, while free speech zones restrict anyone wishing to communicate a particular viewpoint to a specially designated area on campus. Things have gotten so bad that comedians such as Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld refuse to perform stand-up routines to college crowds anymore.
Clearly, the country is undergoing a nervous breakdown, and the news media is helping to push us to the brink of insanity by bombarding us with wall-to-wall news coverage and news cycles that change every few days.
First Greece, now Puerto Rico.-Lou
Puerto Rican Governor Says Island Debt “Not Payable”
Puerto Rico’s governor, saying he needs to pull the island out of a “death spiral,” has concluded that the commonwealth cannot pay its roughly $72 billion in debts, an admission that will probably have wide-reaching financial repercussions.
The governor, Alejandro García Padilla, and senior members of his staff said in an interview last week that they would probably seek significant concessions from as many as all of the island’s creditors, which could include deferring some debt payments for as long as five years or extending the timetable for repayment.
“The debt is not payable,” Mr. García Padilla said. “There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math.”
It is a startling admission from the governor of an island of 3.6 million people, which has piled on more municipal bond debt per capita than any American state.
That market has already been shaken by municipal bankruptcies in Detroit; Stockton, Calif.; and elsewhere, which undercut assumptions that local governments in the United States would always pay back their debt.
Puerto Rico’s bonds have a face value roughly eight times that of Detroit’s bonds. Its call for debt relief on such a vast scale could raise borrowing costs for other local governments as investors become more wary of lending.
And so starts the great financial crisis of 2015. Remember it’s the derivatives tied to all the Greek debt held by European banks that pose systemic risk. Amazing that a $1.8 billion debt payment to the IMF (peanuts in world finance) can set off financial chaos across all financial markets.-Lou
Greek Banks And Stock Exchange In Shutdown
Banks in Greece and the country’s stock exchange will be shut all week in a sign of the deepening financial crisis.
The drastic move comes after people rushed to withdraw their cash amid panic ahead of the referendum on bailout terms.
Under the controls, there will be a daily €60 limit on withdrawals from cash machines, which will reopen on Tuesday.
The Foreign Office has warned British tourists to take enough cash to cover emergencies in case cash machines are emptied.
It said: “Visitors to Greece should be aware of the possibility that banking services – including credit card processing and servicing of ATMs – throughout Greece could potentially become limited at short notice.”
The euro fell sharply against the dollar and pound on Monday while stock markets fell amid investor jitters of a Greek debt default and exit from the eurozone.
Speaking in a televised address on Sunday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged calm and insisted bank deposits were safe.
He blamed European partners and the European Central Bank for forcing Greece’s hand.
And he said the latest developments would not halt the planned referendum next Sunday.
But queues at petrol stations and the declining number of bank machines still dispensing cash underlined the scale of the country’s economic plight.
European creditors have refused a request to extend Greece’s international bailout beyond Tuesday, until after the referendum.
It means Athens is at risk of defaulting on its €1.5bn IMF payment, with membership of the eurozone hanging in the balance.
Mr Tsipras said: “The recent decisions of the Eurogroup and ECB have only one objective: to attempt to stifle the will of the Greek people.
The war on cash is in full mode. This is a very important article.-Lou
To Avoid Prison, You Must Read This Before Taking Your Money Out of the Bank Can you find yourself in the picture? Don’t be “that guy”. These people will end up living under a cardboard box or they will forced to go to a FEMA camp for food and water. Most people, who are familiar with Jade Helm, understand that it will take a precipitating event (e.g. false flag) in order for the “drill” to go live. And most would agree that the precipitating event will be tied to an economic collapse of the dollar. When the collapse comes, order will have to be restored, hence, enter Jade Helm. Once America reaches this point, your money will be gone along with the 401K, Roth IRA and all retirement accounts will be confiscated. Jade Helm, or its successor will be needed. Since I wrote the June 12th article “Surviving the Jade Helm Era Depends On Taking Your Money Out of the Bank”, I have been inundated with requests for more information on how to get your money out of the bank. If you think your money is safe while sitting in the bank, you desperately need to read the aforementioned article. Please note, that I am not a financial planner, I am simply informing the public of what I have learned on the topic of federal bank withdrawals and the legalities connected with withdrawing your money from the bank. The following represents what I have either done, or will do, in the coming days. There is no doubt that anyone who leaves all of their money in the bank needs their head examined. However, if you walk up to your “friendly” teller and ask to withdraw all, or most, of your money, you will either be shown the door and/or arrested for violating federal banking laws. Yes, it is now a crime to take your own money out of your own bank account, just ask former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert who has been indicted for taking HIS money out of HIS bank account. Even Congressmen Aren’t Safe From the Banksters
Federal prosecutors have charged a former Republican House speaker, Dennis Hastert, with illegally structuring cash withdrawals from bank accounts which were designed to conceal payments to someone he committed “prior misconduct” against and Hastert is also accused of lying to the FBI about the event. The indictment did not specify who Hastert was paying off for his prior misconduct, but anonymous sources allege that Hastert had sexual contact with a minor when he was a high school wrestling coach and the former student was extorting the former Congressman. A total of $3.5 million was involved according to the prosecutors. The important point to consider here is that this former Congressmen is not headed to prison for sex with a minor, or facilitating a bribe, he is headed to prison for TAKING HIS OWN MONEY OUT OF HIS BANK ACCOUNT! Just how can one steal their own money, according to the Federal Government? That is what Deborah T. thought when she wrote the following to me on June 13th.
Dear Dave, Please suggest what I should do. I cashed out my $10,000 IRA, paid the taxes and got the $10,000 in CASH….worried about not being able to get my money out of the bank. Now from what I have been hearing I am afraid I could be arrested for getting my own money out… Please make a suggestion. Should I redeposit the $10,000? Forever grateful if you will answer. Deborah T.
Deborah should be concerned with going to prison. There is no question that you need to take the majority of your money out of the bank, but what are the pitfalls in doing so? What should every American know prior to attempting to liberate the fruits of their own labor from the bankster controlled central bank?
Taking what was your money out of the bank is no longer a matter of walking up to your friendly teller with a withdrawal slip and the teller cheerfully honors your request and you calmly exit the bank with your money in tow. In fact, your teller is trained to look for certain indicators in any cash withdrawal of any significance. As you move to withdraw the bulk of your money, there are three federal banking laws that you should be cognizant of, namely, Cash Transaction Report (CTR), a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) and structuring. Before proceeding with the planed withdrawal of your money, I would strongly suggest that you read the following federal guidelines as it relates to CTR’s as produced by the The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). All the federal regulations contained in this article are elucidated in this series of federal reports. Before withdrawing your money, please be aware of these three regulations related to getting your money out of the bank.
Federal law requires that the bank file a report based upon any withdrawal or deposit of $10,000 or more on any single given day.The law was designed to put a damper on money laundering, sophisticated counterfeiting and other federal crimes. To remain in compliance with the law, financial institutions must obtain personal identification, information about the transaction and the social security number of the person conducting the transaction. Technically, there is no federal law prohibiting the use of large amounts of cash. However, a CTR must be filed in ALL cases of cash transaction regardless of the reason underlying the transaction. This means your cash transaction will be on the radar. More…
Enjoy your summer.-Lou
7 Key Events That Are Going To Happen By The End Of September
By Michael Snyder, on June 11th, 2015
Is something really big about to happen? For months, people have been pointing to the second half of this year for various reasons. For some, the major concern is Jade Helm and the unprecedented movement of military vehicles and equipment that we have been witnessing all over the nation. For others, the upcoming fourth blood moon and the end of the Shemitah cycle are extremely significant events. Yet others are most concerned about political developments in Washington D.C. and at the United Nations. To me, it does seem rather remarkable that we are seeing such a confluence of economic, political and spiritual events coming together during the second half of 2015. So is all of this leading up to something? Is our world about to change in a fundamental way? Only time will tell. The following are 7 key events that are going to happen by the end of September…
Late June/Early July – It is expected that this is when the U.S. Supreme Court will reveal their gay marriage decision. Most believe that the court will rule that gay marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states. There are some that believe that this will be a major turning point for our nation.
July 15th to September 15th – A “realistic military training exercise” known as “Jade Helm” will be conducted by the U.S. Army. More than 1,000 members of the U.S. military will take part in this exercise. The list of states slated to be involved in these drills includes Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Mississippi and Florida.
July 28th – On May 28th, Reuters reported that countries in the European Union were being given a two month deadline to enact “bail-in” legislation. Any nation that does not have “bail-in” legislation in place by that time will face legal action from the European Commission. So why is the European Union in such a rush to get this done? Are the top dogs in the EU anticipating that another great financial crisis is about to erupt?
September 13th – This is Elul 29 on the Biblical calendar – the last day of the Shemitah year. Many are concerned about this date because we have seen giant stock market crashes on the last day of the previous two Shemitah cycles.