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NEWS to Disturb the Comfortable... we don't tell you what to think, but we give you something to think about.

Wednesday 04.16.2014

Belgium is buying up tons of U.S. Treasurys
Foreign investors loaded up on U.S. Treasurys in February at the fastest pace since September of 2011, according to Treasury International Capital transactions data released Tuesday. The biggest buyer: Belgium. February marks the latest month where Belgium’s holdings of Treasurys has surged, according to the TIC holdings data. That month, the European nation purchased $30.9 billion in Treasurys, bringing its total to $341.2 billion, behind only mega-buyers China and Japan in total holdings.n the past year, Belgium has added $153.9 billion to its Treasury holdings, accounting for 80% of the total increase in foreign holdings of Treasurys during that time period, according to Stone & McCarthy Research Associates.

Nevada Rancher: ‘The Founding Fathers Didn’t Create A Government Like This
A Nevada rancher said Monday he’s trying to determine if federal agents damaged his cattle when the animals were rounded up then released in a showdown with angry protesters over a decades-long dispute about rangeland rights. U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze said the agency backed off to avoid a potentially violent situation over the weekend. However, he vowed to go to court to collect more than $1 million in back grazing fees he says Cliven Bundy owes for trespassing on federal lands since the 1990s. Bundy, whose family has operated a ranch since the 1870s southwest of Mesquite a few miles from the Utah line, does not recognize federal authority on the land that he insists belongs to Nevada.

Financial Critics Us Jobs Has Not Improved At All Us Economy Recovery Lie

Gold bear takes on bug: 'You’re miles off base'
Gold suffered its worst day of the year on Tuesday, as bullion fell 2 percent. And when it comes to where gold is going next, Peter Schiff and Paul Krake have completely opposite perspectives. Krake, of View from the Peak, has a target on gold of $1,000, roughly $300 below current levels. But Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, says gold is heading above $5,000. Schiff's bullish case is premised on the idea that central bank actions will create inflation, which will lead to much higher gold prices. "Central banks are creating too much money, there's too much inflation, interest rates are too low, and so I want to store my purchasing power in something that central banks can't print," Schiff said on Tuesday's episode of "Futures Now." "I think we're headed much higher because they are not going to stop the presses. They are going to run them into overdrive."

US Postal Service Joins in Federal Ammo Purchases
Add the U.S. Postal Service to the list of federal agencies seeking to purchase what some Second Amendment activists say are alarmingly large quantities of ammunition. Earlier this year, the USPS posted a notice on its website, under the heading "Assorted Small Arms Ammunition," that says: "The United States Postal Service intends to solicit proposals for assorted small arms ammunition. If your organization wishes to participate, you must pre-register. This message is only a notification of our intent to solicit proposals." Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Washington-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said: "We're seeing a highly unusual amount of ammunition being bought by the federal agencies over a fairly short period of time. To be honest, I don't understand why the federal government is buying so much at this time.

Financial Critics Gold Price Will Skyrocke

Attention Shoppers: Fruit and Vegetable Prices Are Rising
Grocery shoppers may soon need more green in their wallets to afford their next salad. The cost of fresh produce is poised to jump in the coming months as a three-year drought in California shows few signs of abating, according to an Arizona State University study set to be released Wednesday. The study found a head of lettuce could increase in price as much as 62 cents to $2.44; avocado prices could rise 35 cents to $1.60 each; and tomatoes could cost 45 cents more at $2.84 per pound. (The run-up in produce prices is in line with other projections showing that overall food cost gains are expected to accelerate this year.) The latest projections were compiled by Timothy Richards, an agribusiness professor at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

Ron Paul Warns Feds Could Launch Waco-Style Assault Against Bundy
Ron Paul appeared on Fox News with Neil Cavuto last night to warn that the federal government could be planning to launch a Waco-style assault against Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy. Expressing hope that last week’s events, during which Bundy supporters faced down armed BLM agents and forced them to release Bundy’s cattle, represented a new benchmark for Americans standing up against federal government intrusion, the former Congressman suggested that it would be naive to think that the feds have thrown in the towel. “They may come back with a lot more force like they did at Waco with the Davidians,” said Paul, adding that he hoped the situation remained non-violent. Host Neil Cavuto remarked that the potential for violence across the United States was on a “very slight trigger,” to which Paul responded, “That’s the great fear….especially if the financial crisis gets much worse which I anticipate.”

Detroit Sells Homes for $1,000
Detroit has started to auction homes for as little as $1,000 each. Its Building Detroit website launched Monday with 15 homes and a series of rules buyers must follow once they take possession of the properties. The action suggests just how far Detroit has fallen and how unlikely it is that people will want to move into the more blighted parts of the city. The houses can be purchased with a credit card. However, the cards are only charged if buyers do not pay on time for a home for which they have the winning bid. Properties will be online for a week before bidding begins; auctions begin May 5. Open Houses will allow potential owners to walk through the houses.

H&M CEO Warns Rising Bangladeshi Wages May Move Jobs Elsewhere
Hennes & Mauritz , the world's second-biggest fashion retailer, supports higher wages for textile workers in Bangladesh, its chief executive said, but warned that higher costs could also prompt some companies to go elsewhere. "After all, many companies source from Bangladesh, not just us. The country needs to take into account that jobs could be lost to other countries," German daily newspaper Die Welt cited CEO Karl-Johan Persson as saying in an interview published on its website on Tuesday. "In Bangladesh, the clothing industry offers 4 million jobs that are relatively well paid compared with others. Textile workers earn about as much as teachers," Persson said. Faced with growing competition from even cheaper rivals such as Britain's Primark and U.S. chain Forever 21, H&M has been seeking to differentiate itself by stressing a commitment to sustainability, including using more recycled materials and organic cotton as well as campaigning for better wages.

Ron Paul Gold Price Predictions

Home builder sentiment barely budges in April, misses estimates
Confidence among home builders in the market for new, single-family homes remained in a holding pattern in April, ticking up just one point. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose to 47 from a downwardly revised reading of 46 the month before. The reading disappointed analysts who had expected it to rise to 49, according to a Reuters poll. A reading of more than 50 indicates more builders view market conditions as favorable than poor. Readings from June to January were higher than 50—before snapping below that mark in February.

Doctors Today: Overworked, Unhappy With Job and More Prone to Suicide
Nine out of 10 doctors would discourage others from choosing their profession, while data suggest that 300 physicians will commit suicide this year. The Daily Beast notes the facts are startling: Being a doctor is the second-most common profession in which people take their own lives. According to Business Insider, "[p]hysicians are 1.87 times more likely to commit suicide" than white males working in other professions. Layers of government regulations have shrunk the average time a doctor spends with a patient during an appointment to around 12 minutes. That is partially due, writes the Daily Beast, to an increased caseload of up to 2,500 patients to offset the high insurance costs doctors face for every patient they see.

Pep Boys shares fall as quarterly results disappoint
Shares of Pep Boys-Manny Moe & Jack fell in the extended session Monday even as the auto parts retailer turned in a narrower quarterly loss on lower revenue. Pep Boys 12-month stock price shares fell 6.3% to $11.22 on moderate volume. The company reported a fourth-quarter loss of 6 cents a share on revenue of $495.7 million. The two analysts who follow Pep Boys had forecast an average of 4 cents a share in earnings on revenue of $531.2 million. Pep Boys said retail tire prices are below last year’s levels and will weigh on sales through the second quarter of 2014.

America's $1.4 trillion Tuesday
It’s Tax Day and millions of Americans are rushing to get their federal income taxes paid before the midnight deadline. Uncle Sam’s haul this year is going to be enormous, estimated at $1.4 trillion from individual taxpayers alone. What does all that buy you? Well, an estimated $427 billion will be needed just to pay interest on existing federal debts. We’re offering some tax and spending facts today as you race the clock. A report from the Tax Analysis Center to be released today will show reducing the corporate tax rate from 29 percent to 9 percent would increase U.S. wages by more than 10 percent.

Meat and Produce Prices Lead Surge in Food Costs
Keep a close eye on your grocery bill, because food prices are climbing. Tuesday’s release of the March Consumer Price Index showed that food costs rose 0.4 percent for the second consecutive month. Over the past year, grocery costs have increased 1.4 percent. Breaking this down a little more, meats, poultry, fish, and eggs posted the biggest price jump in March at 1.2 percent, while dairy prices added 1 percent. Fresh fruits shot up 3.1 percent and fresh vegetables declined 1.6 percent, with the overall fruits and vegetables index gaining 0.9 percent.

CEO Mary Barra on GM recall

Beef Prices Reach Highest Level Since 1987
Beef prices have surged to the highest level in decades. And consumers shouldn't expect price cuts ahead of the summer grilling season, or anytime soon after, industry leaders warn. This year has seen continually rising beef prices, with the average retail cost of fresh meat climbing to $5.28 a pound in February. That's up almost a quarter from January and the highest price since 1987, reported the Associated Press.The heftier price tag for beef is the results of several factors which have strained supply. U.S. cattle inventory hit a 63-year low, according to Bloomberg data, MarketWatch reports. And since “cow numbers were down…the lower supply meant higher prices,” William Hahn, an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) explained.

Gold Futures Settle At Highest In 3 Weeks
Gold futures climbed Monday to settle at their highest level in three weeks, as growing tensions in Ukraine buoyed the metal's safe-haven appeal for investors. June gold tacked on $8.50, or 0.6%, to settle at $1,327.50 an ounce on Comex. That was the highest settlement for a most-active contract since March 21, FactSet data show. Gold responded to a "safe-haven status and a 'risk-off' mentality regarding allocation to equities," said Jeffrey Wright, managing director at H.C. Wainwright.

Chinese Pork Takeover Results In $600 Million Payout For 2 Execs
Two senior executives of China's biggest pork producer WH Group Ltd received a combined $600 million payout for helping the Chinese company seal last year's record $4.9 billion takeover of U.S.-based Smithfield Foods Inc, an unusually high incentive for an acquisition. The bonus, disclosed in a public filing, is equivalent to just over 12 percent of the amount WH Group paid for Smithfield, a purchase that was key to turning it into the world's largest pork company. The deal had initially faced stiff political opposition in the United States."This is very unusual - normally you would incentivise management for overall long term performance and not simply for executing a transaction- which is part of their job," said David Webb, a Hong Kong-based corporate governance advocate.

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