Thursday, September 08, 2011

The unfaithful shepherds...and the jackasses...

For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the LORD;
therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered
(Jer 10:21).

A big day up yesterday. The Dow rose 275 points. Gold dropped $55.

What’s the matter with investors? They should be selling gold AND

Why? Because we’re in a Great Correction. Not a boom. Not a
recovery. Not anything except a Great Correction.

What does that mean? It means Mr. Market is correcting the errors of
the past. We don’t know exactly which errors — it depends on how
rambunctious he gets — but we know we won’t ever go back to where we
were in 2007. We have to go on. Forward. Adelante, to give it a
certain Latin sashay.

But where to?

C’ don’t seriously think we know, do you? Of course, we
don’t...nobody knows the future. But just wait until Mr. Obama gets
on the TV screen. He’ll tell us where he wants us to go.

We’d like to tell him where to go too...

But, heck, he’s the POTUS. We’re just a lowly scribe...a miserable
molder of mediocre memes. A financial Jeremiah...always
warning...worrying...predicting doom and gloom.

But wait. Didn’t we tell you the bubble would pop in 2007? Didn’t we
tell you that real estate would go down 30% or more? Didn’t we warn
you to get out of stocks and into gold 10 years ago?

Sometimes right. Sometimes wrong. Always in doubt.

But what we see now is an unfaithful shepherd...

A central bank that has turned its back on the currency it is meant
to protect...

A government that has betrayed the principles it was set up to

And an economy that has turned into a zombie. It’s somewhere between
alive and dead... Pretending to be a capitalist system...but a
capitalist looking for a handout.

Consumer confidence numbers continue to sink...

Housing prices continue to fall...while housing starts bump along at
depression levels...

More and more people are moving into long-stay motels...more and
more are on food stamps.

An ABC poll tells us that Obama’s DIS-approval rating has increased
to 60%...with most Americans convinced that his jobs proposal (to be
announced today) will not work.

The output gap — roughly the difference between what the economy
should produce and what it actually does produce — is at 7%. It’s
never been this high at this stage of the business cycle.

Had enough?

Well, it gets worse. Because the effect of the unfaithful shepherds’
bailouts has been to shift more and more wealth to the people who
were wealthiest already. Business profits — especially in the
financial sector — soared. Wages fell.

And now, even old people can’t pay their they’re
stuck in jobs, leaving the young with nothing to do. The youth
unemployment rate is one in four; it’s a wonder they are aren’t
burning cars and rampaging through cities. But they live in the
suburbs and probably can’t afford the bus fare to get into town.

This is becoming a dangerous situation. Former Labor Secretary
Robert Reich explains:

The 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes now account for
37 percent of all consumer purchases, according to the latest
research from Moody’s Analytics.

During periods when the very rich took home a larger proportion — as
between 1918 and 1933, and in the Great Regression from 1981 to the
present day — growth slowed, median wages stagnated and we suffered
giant downturns. It’s no mere coincidence that over the last century
the top earners’ share of the nation’s total income peaked in 1928
and 2007 — the two years just preceding the biggest downturns.

Starting in the late 1970s, the middle class began to weaken... The
middle class nonetheless continued to spend, at first enabled by the
flow of women into the work force. (In the 1960s only 12 percent of
married women with young children were working for pay; by the late
1990s, 55 percent were.) When that way of life stopped generating
enough income, Americans went deeper into debt. From the late 1990s
to 2007, the typical household debt grew by a third. As long as
housing values continued to rise it seemed a painless way to get
additional money.

Eventually, of course, the bubble burst. That ended the middle
class’s remarkable ability to keep spending in the face of near
stagnant wages. The puzzle is why so little has been done in the
last 40 years to help deal with the subversion of the economic power
of the middle class. With the continued gains from economic growth,
the nation could have enabled more people to become problem solvers
and innovators — through early childhood education, better public
schools, expanded access to higher education and more efficient
public transportation.

Of course, Reich goes on to misunderstand everything. He thinks the
rich got richer because government was not ambitious enough. The
real problem was that the rich were able to use ambitious, activist
government to their own ends.

The unfaithful shepherds rigged the game in their favor.

And more thoughts...

Last night we watched TV. There was a show called “Killing Bin

We do not normally react to political commentary, except to laugh.
But the “Killing Bin Laden” show gave us the creeps. We laughed. But
it was a bitter, worried laugh.

The show describes, with evident pride, how a group of American
soldiers trained carefully...and used the latest gee-whiz military
hardware to murder unarmed, apparently completely innocent people.
Encountering bin Laden’s wife, for example, the soldiers made no
attempt to protect her...or to rescue her. They just gunned her
down. As appalling as this was, what happened next almost took our
breath away.

An “expert” appeared on screen. In a single sentence, this jackass
excused the killing by saying “it was permissible” or some other
claptrap. What exactly was his rationale, we don’t know. He didn’t
say. Even in times of war, soldiers are not supposed to kill
civilians. Heck, these soldiers probably shot his dog too. You may
be allowed to kill enemy combatants (which is a huge stretch for Bin
Laden)...but what kind of army kills their wives and children too?
If this ‘expert’ doesn’t go to Hell we’ll be disappointed in the
whole structure of Heaven.

Our “History of the Jews” book has made us think. It has a lot of
instances of mass murder masquerading as military action. And then,
when the Jews had been massacred, their cities destroyed, and their
wives and children sold into slavery, they asked why their God had
forsaken them. The prophets answered: ‘because we forsook Him.’

It was a good answer. They argued that the Jews had been corrupted
by politics...and then they became its victims. Those who lived by
the sword, perished by it. Rough justice, administered by God

So, what’s in store for a nation that makes heroes of killers? We
don’t like to think...

Bill Bonner

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