What’s that fishy smell? The Fed’s corrupt policies

Excellent article….My thoughts exactly. Fed policies hurt savers and help speculators and the big banks.-Lou

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What’s that fishy smell? The Fed’s corrupt policies

Opinion: Central bank costs savers more than $100 billion a year

Marketwatch-

Our financial system is so corrupt you might say that a fish rots from the Fed.

How else can one describe a regime that punishes savers and rewards borrowers and speculators for years on end? Our central bank is essentially taking billions of dollars a year from average Americans, who are still struggling to get by in a bombed-out economy, and it is giving it — yes, giving it — to the very banks that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis in the first place.

It’s a stealth bailout,” Barrington said. “Low-interest-rate policies have helped bail out banks, the stock market and real estate, but the Fed has not publicly acknowledged the cost of those policies.”

Of course, not. Because the costs are staggering.

Money-market rates have been stuck between 0.08% and 0.10% but the annual inflation rate has been, at least nominally, 1.5%. That’s pretty low for inflation, yet this spread eroded the purchasing power of American deposits by $122.5 billion over the last year alone, Barrington said.

Barrington’s analysis, by the way, is conservative. It only counts what inflation has done to savers. It does not include what savers might have made if interest rates were closer to historic averages. And after five years, these costs are only mounting.

“Unlike the other bailouts we’ve seen, this one has become open-ended,” Barrington said.

He does not attribute this ongoing folly to corruption, as I do. He sees it, more charitably, as the result of “thinking that’s trapped in the past.” Our economic problems are unprecedented, and yet the Fed is still making comparisons to what they think should have been done in the 1930s.

The Fed has been purchasing tens of billions of dollars per month in U.S. Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities from banks. It has been cutting back this program, and many Fed watchers expect it to end by October, but so far these purchases have totaled more than $3.3 trillion.

And what does the Fed have to show for this? Economic growth averaging only about 2% a year. A sluggish labor market. And artificially raised stock and real estate prices that may not hold if the Fed ever stops manipulating interest rates to such historic lows.

Most Americans, by the way, haven’t participated in these lofty stock market gains that continue to widen the gap between rich and poor.

Bankrate.com on Monday released a survey of more than 1,000 households that showed 73% are “not more inclined to invest in stocks.” It was the third year in a row that this survey uncovered negative sentiments regarding the stock market, even as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index SPX +0.41%  has doubled since hitting bottom in 2009.

After getting burned twice in one decade — the 2001 Internet bust and the 2008 financial crisis — it is easy to see these gains as part of yet another financially engineered scheme. Average Americans either don’t have money to risk or they simply refuse to be herded into a casino, even at a time when money-market rates and bank deposits are delivering negative returns relative to inflation.

Listen To This Week’s Radio Show (4/18/14)

This past Friday’s radio show is now available. Today I reveal the most expensive states to die in.-Lou

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Listen To Last Week’s Radio Show On WOBM AM 1160

The April 11 show is finally available. Sorry for the delay.-Lou

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Electricity Price Surged to All-Time Record for March

This can’t be, the government says there is only 1.5% inflation.-Lou

 

Electricity Price Surged to All-Time Record for March

ELECTRICITY PLANT-AP PHOTO-CROP(CNSNews.com) – The average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity hit a March record of 13.5 cents, according data released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was up about 5.5 percent from 12.8 cents per KWH in March 2013.

The relative price of electricity in the United States tends to rise in spring, peak in summer, and decline in fall. Last year, after the price of a KWH averaged 12.8 cents in March, it rose to an all-time high of 13.7 cents in June, July, August and September.

If the prevailing trend holds, the average price of a KWH would hit a new record this summer.

The BLS’s seasonally adjusted electricity price index rose to 209.341 this March, the highest it has ever been, up 10.537 points—or 5.3 percent–from 198.804 in March 2013.

In its press release on the Consumer Price Index, BLS noted that the overall energy index declined in March, driven by declining gasoline and fuel oil indexes, despite increases in natural gas and electricity.

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”The energy index fell 0.1 percent in March after a 0.5 percent decline in February,” said BLS. “The gasoline index declined 1.7 percent in March, the same decline as in February. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 5.1 percent in March).

“The fuel oil index also declined, falling 2.9 percent after rising 4.1 percent the previous month,” said BLS. “In contrast, the index for natural gas rose sharply, increasing 7.5 percent, its largest one-month increase since October 2005. It has increased 15.3 percent over the last three months.

“The electricity index also increased, rising 1.1 percent,” said BLS. ”Over the last 12 months, the energy index has increased 0.4 percent, with the natural gas index rising 16.4 percent, the electricity index increasing 5.3 percent, and the fuel oil index advancing 2.1 percent. These increases more than offset a 4.7 percent decline in the gasoline index.”

More…

Soaring Food Inflation Full Frontal: Beef, Pork And Shrimp Prices Soar To Record Highs

Food inflation is going to be a huge issue this year.-Lou

 

From: ZeroHedge

Soaring Food Inflation Full Frontal: Beef, Pork And Shrimp Prices Soar To Record Highs

We previously noted that both beef and pork (courtesy of the affectionately namedPorcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) prices have been reaching new all time highs on an almost daily basis. It is time to update the chart. Below we show what a world in which the Fed is constantly lamenting the lack of inflation looks like for beef prices…

… pork

… and shrimp.

More from Bloomberg:

Prices for shrimp have jumped to a 14-year high in recent months, spurred by a disease that’s ravaging the crustacean’s population. At Noodles & Co., a chain with locations across the country, it costs 29 percent more to add the shellfish to pastas this year, and shrimp-heavy dishes at places like the Cheesecake Factory Inc. are going up as well.

Restaurant chains, already struggling with shaky U.S. consumer confidence, are taking a profit hit as prices climb. Even worse, the surge is happening during the season of Lent, when eateries rely on seafood to lure Christian diners who abstain from chicken, beef and pork on certain days.

“It’s coming at a tough time for the industry,” said Andrew Barish, a San Francisco-based analyst at Jefferies LLC. “With the Lenten season, what you’ll see out there is a lot of promotions with seafood, and usually shrimp is a big part of that.”

In March, shrimp prices jumped 61 percent from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The climb is mainly due to a bacterial disease known as early mortality syndrome. While the ailment has no effect on humans, it’s wreaking havoc on young shrimp farmed in Southeast Asia, shrinking supplies.

***

James Johnson, a Jewel-Osco supermarket shopper in Chicago, has noticed the price increase. He’s been cutting back on one of his favorite dishes — shrimp and potato soup — because of the cost.

“I haven’t made it in a while,” the 29-year-old said. “Shrimp looks expensive.”

***

At Noodles, it now costs $3.34 to add the shellfish to a meal of pasta or pad thai, compared with $2.59 last year.

“We still want to at least offer it as choice,” Chief Executive Officer Kevin Reddy said in a phone interview. “As soon as the costs begin to normalize, we’ll return to the regular price.”

More…

The “Shocking” Buying Spree Of America’s Mysterious Third Largest Treasury Holder Ramps Higher

This is really astonishing. There is no way the tiny country of Belgium is buying all these Treasury Bonds. I bet it’s the Fed using an EU stand in to cover the purchases. QE will never really end. Everything we are being told from the Government and The Fed are blatant lies.-Lou

 

The “Shocking” Buying Spree Of America’s Mysterious Third Largest Treasury Holder Ramps Higher

From: ZeroHedge

When we reported last month that in a shocking twist, “Belgium” holdings of Treasurys had soared by a massive amount in the past three months, making the tiny country the third largest holder of US paper, our Belgian readers took offsense alleging it is impossible that Belgium itself could be buying all this paper, explaining it was all Euroclear. Well, yes: we know and noted that, which is why those same readers probably should have actually read the part in the post which said: “our question is: just who is Belgium being used as a front for?

Recall that for years, the “UK” line item on TIC data was simply offshore accounts transaction on behalf of China. Of course, since China hasn’t added any net US paper holdings in the past year, the UK, and China, are both irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. ”

So yes, to clarify for our trigger-happy Belgian (non) readers: it is quite clear that Belgium itself is not the buyer. What is not clear is who the mysterious buyer using Belgium as a front is. Because that same “buyer”, who to further explain is not China, just bought another whopping $31 billion in Treasurys in February, bringing the “Belgian” total to a record $341.2 billion, cementing “it”, or rather whoever the mysterious name behind the Euroclear buying rampage is, as the third largest holder of US Treasurys, well above the hedge fund buying community, also known as Caribbean Banking Centers, which held $300 billion in March.

In summary: someone, unclear who, operating through Belgium and most likely the Euroclear service (possible but unconfirmed), has added a record $141 billion in Treasurys since December, or the month in which Bernanke announced the start of the Taper, bringing the host’s total to an unprecedented $341 billion!

Also of note: Chinese holdings of US Paper dropped by $2.7 billion to $1273 billion, offset by Japan’s $9 billlion increase in holdings to $1210 billion, as the convergence between the two countries resumes.

One thing that is certain: the mystery buyer is not Russia, which in February, or just as the Ukraine conflict was starting, sold another $6 billion, bringing the Russian total to $126 billion, the lowest since 2011, and the biggest annual drop, -24%, in holdings in history.

THE IRS

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A Tax Day Poem

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Banksters doing what Banksters do best, ripping off the public, settling with regulators for a fraction of their ill gotten gains…..and nobody goes to jail.-Lou

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Bank of America to pay $800 mln for credit card practices

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) – Bank of America Corp. BAC +0.12% has reached a settlement agreement for $800 million over its credit card practices with U.S. regulators, reports The Wall Street Journal. The bank is expected to settle with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency over allegations it pushed customers to sign-up for extra credit-card products. The settlement is expected to be announced on Wednesday and marks the five settlement over credit card practices with a major bank. Last year, the CFPB settled on similar allegations with American Express Co.

http://thefinancialphysician.com/2014/04/12698/

16 Signs That Most Are NOT PREPARED for The Coming Economic Collapse

Another great article from one of my favorite websites The Economic Collapse Blog.-Lou

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16 Signs That Most Are NOT PREPARED for The Coming Economic Collapse

Sometimes I think that I sound like a broken record.  I am constantly using phrases such as “get prepared while you still can” and “time is running out”.  In fact, I use them so often that people are starting to criticize me for it.  But the truth is that only a small percentage of people out there are actively taking steps to get ready for what is coming.  Most of the country is not prepared at all.  In many ways, it is just like 2007 all over again.  There were many people that could see what was about to happen and were doing all they could to warn people, but most did not listen.  And then the great financial crisis of 2008 struck and millions of people lost their jobs and their homes.  Unfortunately, the next great wave of the economic collapse is going to be even more painful than the last one.  It is imperative that people get prepared for what is on the horizon, but for the most part it is just not happening.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that we have such short memories and such short attention spans in America today.  Thanks to years of television and endless hours on the Internet, I find myself having a really hard time focusing on anything for more than just a few moments.  And we are accustomed to living in an “instant society” where we don’t have to wait for anything.  In such a society, we are used to “news cycles” that only last for 24 hours and very few people take a “long-term view” of anything.

And another one of the big problems that we are facing is something called “normalcy bias”.  The following is how Wikipedia defines it…

The normalcy bias, or normality bias, refers to amental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

Over the past several years, the U.S. economy has been relatively stable.  And that is a good thing.  But it has also lulled millions upon millions of people into a false sense of security and complacency.  At this point, most Americans consider 2008 to be a temporary bump in the road, and most assume that the U.S. economy will always be strong.

Unfortunately, that is not the truth.  As I have written about previously, the long-term trends that are destroying our economy have continued to get worse since 2008, and none of the problems that caused the last financial crisis have been fixed.

We are steamrolling toward the edge of an economic cliff, and most people in our entertainment-addicted society are totally oblivious to what is going on.  So they are not doing anything to get ready for the immense economic pain that is coming.  The following are 16 signs that most Americans are completely unprepared for the coming economic collapse…

#1 Could you come up with $2000 right now?  According to a shocking study that was just released, most Americans could not

Forty percent of individuals in the U.S. said they could not or probably could not come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose, according to research by Atif Mian of Princeton University and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

#2 In that same study, Americans were asked the following question…

“Do you have 3 months emergency funds to cover expenses in case of sickness, job loss, economic downturn?”

An astounding 60 percent of people that responded said that they do not.

#3 Another study found that less than one out of every four Americans has enough money stored away to cover six months of expenses.

#4 Some people are actually trying really hard to get ahead, but admittedly that is really tough to do when we are all being taxed into oblivion.  In fact, it was reported this week that Americans now spend more on taxes than they spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

More…