Headline News Archives

Wednesday 08.24.2016

Cost of U.S. Healthcare Now 800% Higher Per Person Than It Was In 1960, Even When Adjusted For Inflation

One of the most massive political scandals ever perpetuated on the American people was President Barack Obama's healthcare "reform" law – one of the most onerous, under-performing and destructive pieces of legislation ever to be codified in U.S. statutes.

One of the biggest lies of all is that the 2,700 page plus behemoth was supposed to lower healthcare costs – for patients and hospitals, as well as for insurers. Out-of-pocket costs and premiums were also supposed to fall dramatically, as Obama promised repeatedly during his first campaign for the White House.

But that was then. Today, not only are premiums literally skyrocketing just a few years after the law has fully taken effect, but out-of-pocket expenses, mostly for ever growing insurance plan deductibles, have also grown exponentially.

Consider that in the U.S. today, a single trip to the emergency room – depending on the severity of your illness or injury – could easily top $30,000, $40,000, 50,000 or even more. If your plan has a high deductible, or if you simply cannot afford coverage regardless of Obamacare's mandate that you have coverage, just one such visit could bankrupt you or doom you and your family to a lifetime of crippling economic despair – all while our president and the Democrats who helped him pass the law receive better plans, VIP treatment and government subsidies to pay for their own coverage.

The Gold Standard And Debt Jubilee

We need a gold standard. For those (newer) readers who don’t understand why this is so, the explanation couldn’t be simpler. Among other virtues, a gold standard performs two, essential functions. It prevents (corrupt) governments from drowning us in debt. It prevents (criminal) central banks from stealing all of our wealth, via the “inflation” they create with their excessive money-printin

It is these noble properties which earned the gold standard its scornful nickname, from history’s most-infamous gold-hater, John Maynard Keynes. The great Charlatan Economist called the gold standard “the Golden Handcuffs”. A gold standard handcuffs corrupt governments, forcing them to operate somewhere near a balanced budget, at all times. A gold standard handcuffs criminal central banks, restraining the speed with which they steal-by-inflation to a near-zero rate.

For those readers who don’t accept the assertion of this writer, and who don’t trust the words of Charlatan Keynes, we have a more contemporary and even more-infamous authority here. "In the absence of a gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation [i.e. theft] through inflation." – Alan Greenspan , 1966

No way to protect ourselves. The language is unequivocal. This warning was uttered well before Greenspan himself became a servant of the banking Crime Syndicate , and the world’s foremost Inflation Thief. We either have a gold standard, or we are permanently vulnerable to the systemic, monetary crimes by the fraud-factories which call themselves “central banks”. Pretty simple. Another of the great truths in our societies is what that when we have a crying need for some change in public policy, there will be no shortage of politicians who pledge such changes – and then break their word. Generally, we have no way of easily separating the Posers who promise reforms (like the cynical liar, Barack “Change” Obama) from the tiny minority of politicians with the integrity to carry out such reforms.

The New Home Sales Report Was A Complete Farce

Absurd surges in new home sales activity were not significant…Headline reporting of this series is of no substance, as seen frequently with massive, unstable and continuously shifting revisions of recent history… – John Williams, on the June report.

Like everything else going on in the financial markets, the Government’s new home sales report is thoroughly inconsistent with all of the actualized supporting data and bears absolutely no resemblance to observable reality. The Census Bureaus, which is notorious for producing fraudulent data, reports that new homes sales hit a 9-year high in July on a “statistically adjusted, annualized rate” basis. However, it had to revise its original report down for June to 582k from 592k. Bloomberg theatrically describes the report as indicating “sky high momentum.” These are, of course, fairytale numbers.

This is how John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics described last month’s new home sales report: “Despite ‘benchmarking’ to the unstable seasonal-adjustment factors with the April 2016 release, this series remains extraordinarily unstable and consistently unreliable on a near-term month-to-month basis as weather headline sales increased or decreased.”

The Government’s numbers were “driven” by an unexplainable 18% surge in new home sales in the South. Yet, according to’s data for July, homes sales for July in the south’s biggest MSAs (population areas) cratered: Atlanta -12.9%, Dallas/Ft Worth -13.3%, Miami -24.2%, Orlando -16.1% (LINK). In other words, the Government’s metric conflicts drastically with observable reality.

Reality Check: We've Got Bigger Problems Than a Lying Swimmer

The Schizophrenic Fed

Central bank policy is center stage this week as the world turns its attention to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The symposium hosted by the Kansas City Fed has become the prime venue for discussing monetary policy.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen is set to deliver her speech on Friday, which will capture the attention of global markets. Leading up to the event, Fed officials have been especially vocal and particularly unaligned. The rhetoric has caused more than a few Fed watchers to use the term “schizophrenic.”

As UBS’s Art Cashin put it, “Fed types do not just contradict each other, now they contradict themselves.” This comment is in reference to a paper recently released by San Francisco Fed President John Williams.

Days after making the case that the economy is improving, and raising rates soon is justified, Mr. Williams put out a paper arguing that central banks need to “rethink” their monetary policy tools. His suggestions included increasing the inflation target (which they haven’t been able to meet in years), or scrapping it completely in favor of other targets based on price levels or economic growth.

Gold Spending In India Is Set To Get A Boost From A Strong Monsoon Season

Since before recorded human history, the people of India have had an insatiable appetite for gold, treasuring it not only for its flawless natural beauty and religious significance but also as a superb store of value. This tradition carries on today, with India’s demand for gold jewelry in 2015 reaching more than 668 tonnes, nearly a third of total global demand and second in size only to China.

I’ve pointed out many times before that the price of gold is largely driven by the Love Trade in India. Demand fluctuates year-to-year depending on several factors, the two most significant being the number of Indian weddings held in the fourth quarter and the amount of crop revenue that’s generated as a result of the summer monsoon season.

The wedding season is still three months away, but the June to September monsoon season is currently in full swing. It’s impossible to overstate just how crucial this period is to India’s important agriculture sector. During an average monsoon season, the Indian subcontinent can receive close to 80 percent of its total annual precipitation.

Most reports so far this year indicate surplus rainfall, with 12 inches being dumped nationwide last month alone, the fifth best month since the 1990s. This should come as welcome relief to Indian farmers, whose incomes have been squeezed by two long years of drought. It’s also good news for gold consumption.

All Of The US Economy's Problems Come Back To One Thing

It's all about jobs. The rough patches and disappointments that are plaguing the US economy are all symptoms of one thing, according to Tim Hopper of TIAA Global Asset Management: the slack left in the labor market.

For instance, the chief economist said, the downturn in capital spending by businesses and the declining productivity of workers has to do with the ability of businesses to hire workers at a lower cost than it would be to buy physical assets.

"One way to improve productivity is to buy better equipment that makes workers more productive," Hopper told Business Insider. "The problem is, with low wage growth and continued labor market slack, it's cheaper for businesses to just hire a new person instead of making that big investment."

Essentially, with more Americans willing to take a smaller paycheck to get a job, the cost of labor is cheap compared with that of large equipment. Hopper said that while there had been strong headline gains in July's monthly jobs report, the fact that wages were still growing slower than before the recession and that people were entering the workforce directly to employment shows there is more room to grow.

The Chimera Of 'Stable' Money

Since the early 19th century, economists have consistently preached that the value of money or its purchasing power should be stable or relatively stable. David Ricardo, in 1817, said: “A currency, to be perfect, should be absolutely invariable in value.”

According to this view, money as a unit of account should be equivalent to a yardstick measuring an immutable distance. Over the last century, this view of money has led economists to suggest that prices, reflecting the purchasing power of money, as measured by a price index, should also be stable and that central banks should actively interfere with the market economy to bring stability to such an index. The U.S. Central bank has essentially been following such a policy since its inception in 1913. Price stability is inscribed in the Maastricht Treaty, and the goal of hitting a 2% CPI inflation target is a variant of this widely-held view.

Yet, this policy has been mostly responsible for the great depression that started in 1929 and the great recession that began in 2008. It is responsible for the widening growth in income inequalities (here) and the mass economic distortions of the last century. When you do not recognize your errors of the past, you are condemned to repeat them! The purchasing power of money is determined, like most things in a capitalist system, by supply and demand. Changes in the demand for money (think of shifts in the curve) are caused essentially by two forces:

The first is the subjective valuations by individuals of the value of goods and services which is reflected in the wide array of relative prices in a capitalist economy. Since these subjective valuations are constantly changing, so will relative prices and the purchasing power of money. Some prices will go up, others will fall, and the overall purchasing power of money will vary within a range which can be large or small depending on the changes in these subjective valuations. The second is the general expansion or growth of a capitalist economy. A simple example will make this clear. Suppose we have $10 to spend on 10 apples; market forces normally will generate an equilibrium price of $1 per apple. If we double the number of apples, the individual price will fall to 50 cents and the purchasing power of money will have doubled. During the last two centuries, the growth in output of goods and services should have led to a continuous and significant increase in the purchasing power of money. This did not happen.

Debt To Reach Highest Level Since 1950 This Year

The national debt this year will jump to the highest level since 1950 relative to the size of the economy, the Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday.

The agency projected that the debt held by the public will rise 3 percentage points to 77 percent of U.S. gross domestic product by the end of fiscal year 2016 in September.

Debt has not hit that ratio since 1950, when the government was still in the middle of paying down the debt it incurred paying for World War II. Over the next 10 years, the office sees the debt rising from 77 percent of GDP to 86 percent. Beyond that, it's supposed to keep rising as interest costs on the debt mount, along with payments for Social Security, Medicare, and other mandatory programs.

The debt held by the public includes on the debt issued in the form of Treasury securities held by investors, and not the debt the government owes itself through the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

Detroit Has Gone From Being The Greatest Manufacturing City In The World To A Global Joke

In 1960, the city of Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city that the world had ever seen. Nearly two million people lived there, and it had the highest per capita income in the United States. That may be hard to believe, because today it actually has one of the lowest per capita incomes of all of our major cities. Over the decades more than a million people have left the city, and thousands of abandoned homes have been torn down. But there are still tens of thousands of abandoned dwellings that remain standing, and some have sold for as little as one dollar in recent years. Once Detroit was the envy of the entire planet, but now it has become a global joke and in other countries they love to do news stories about “the ruins of Detroit” to show how rapidly America is rotting and decaying. Sadly, Detroit is far from alone, because there are other formerly great manufacturing cities that have declined just as fast as Detroit has.

Earlier today, I came across a video that contains footage that someone recently captured as they drove through the city of Detroit at night. To say that the footage is disturbing would be a tremendous understatement…

It has become known as a mecca of violent crime and poverty, and now a viral video is giving an unpleasant view of Detroit after dark. The clip, called Driving through Detroit at night, was filmed by a woman who was a passenger in a car going around the Motor City and was posted to Twitter at the weekend. It shows terrifying scenes of gangs gathered on the sidewalk, prostitutes lifting up their skirts and dancing, and even a man being run over by a car on purpose.

I would have liked to share the video with you all, but it is just way too graphic. There really are prostitutes lifting up their skirts in the video, and a man really is hit by a vehicle. If you want to watch it for yourself, it is very easy to find on YouTube. But please be warned that children should not be watching this. If you live in a peaceful rural or suburban setting, the kind of behavior displayed in this video may seem very foreign to you. In America today, it is way too easy to allow our televisions to define reality for us. But the warped view of reality that we get through our televisions is nothing like the real world. The real world is cold, cruel and very unforgiving.

U.S. Economy's Biggest Problem Now: The Smartphone?

America's economy has a problem: Workers just aren't producing as much as they once did. Some blame social media. Employees might feel like they're toiling away at the office, but if they are tweeting and Facebook messaging their friends, that's not doing much to boost the economy.

"What do we produce? We just go around and text each other," Carl Icahn, a prominent hedge fund manager and supporter of Donald Trump, told CNN. Whatever the reason, Americans aren't working harder, and it's holding the U.S. economy back.

Output per American worker (know as "worker productivity") is at its lowest level since the 1970s, according to government data. Throughout the 1990s, worker productivity shot up by 2.2% a year. In the early 2000s, it went up a brisk 2.6% a year. Since the Great Recession, it's been crawling along at barely more than 1% a year.

Now it's getting worse. The latest reading came in at negative 0.5% for the period between April and June. (Yes, that means American workers were less productive this spring than a year ago). Economists agree: The U.S. is in an alarming productivity slump, and it's not clear how to fix it. The two most popular solutions are: Get businesses to invest in better equipment or revise the productivity statistics to take into account the benefits of the smartphone economy.

USDA Will Buy $20 Million of Cheese to Reduce Surplus For Food Pantries

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will buy $20 million of cheese from private inventories to reduce a cheese surplus currently at an all-time high.

The cheese, which amounts to about 11 million pounds, will go to food banks and pantries across the country to assist families in need, the USDA said on Tuesday.

The purchase also helps dairy farmers who have asked the government to assist with the massive cheese glut, which has left more than a billion pounds of cheese locked away in storage, the Wall Street Journal reported. The cheese surplus is at its highest level in 30 years, the USDA said.

Dairy producers have had trouble making money recently, as overseas buyers have stopped purchasing from the U.S. due to the high dollar and more milk production in Europe, the Journal reported. Revenues have dropped 35 percent for dairy farmers over the past two years, according to the USDA.

EU Chief Calls For End To Borders

Fed: 19% of NY Firms Cutting Jobs Due to Obamacare

The New York Federal Reserve produces the highly informative monthly “Empire State Manufacturing Survey/Business Leaders Survey.” But due to employer concerns about exploding health insurance costs, the NY Fed conducted a “Supplemental Survey Report” to determine the impact of Obamacare on employment trends.

The NY Fed asked firms to identify the factors that have contributed most toward increasing or reducing health care costs. The respondents tended to blame higher costs on Obamacare, an aging workforce and prescription drug costs.

Asked whether they were changing their health plans in response to Obamacare, three in five respondents — in both the manufacturing and service sector surveys — said they were. The most widely reported adjustments involved higher deductibles, increased co-pays, and higher out-of-pocket maximums for employees.

About 83 percent of firms indicated that they would be paying higher total healthcare premiums in 2017. As a result: 1. 73 percent of firms were raising employee premiums; 2. 65 percent were raising employee out-of-pocket expenses; and 3. 67 percent were increasing employee co-pays.

To Stop The Appearance of Economic Collapse, Venezuela Banned Food Lines Outside Bakeries

Venezuela has pretty much collapsed economically. The country that was the beacon of 21st Century Socialism has devolved into a total disaster zone. Medicine is scarce; food shortages have Venezuelans eating out of dumpsters; and the rolling blackouts have decimated the neonatal intensive care units that have led to a spike in infant deaths in the country’s hospitals.

In fact, some of Venezuela’s hospitals lack basic items like gloves and soap. It’s to the point where some locations are operating as if it were the 19th century. So, to avoid the appearance that all socioeconomic life has deteriorated in the country, the government has banned lines outside bakeries because…they’re part of some bourgeois plot to undermine the government. Yeah, sure—and how many drops of acid have we consumed, President Maduro?

The Venezuelan government has announced it will be fining bakeries that make people stand in lines to buy bread. The National Superintendency of Fair Prices noted this measure is intended to “dismantle the strategy of generating anxiety” in Venezuelans, as the lines are more of a political decision than they are a reflection of a lack of raw materials.

Shortages of food and medicine have recently reached 80 percent, according to estimates by the firm Datanalisis. Venezuelans must stand in endless line to obtain ever-scarce resources.

Fed Going Out Yo Jackson Hole To Get Divorce From Markets

Like celebrities who went to Las Vegas in the 1950s to get quick divorces, the Federal Reserve could be going to Jackson Hole this week to prepare to divorce policy from financial markets.

In a way, the Fed’s relationship with the markets can be boiled down to a simple rule: the U.S. central bank is happy to surprise markets when it is easing policy but has never surprised the market with a rate hike.

But the Fed may be preparing to end this relationship, especially given the recent behavior of financial markets with interest rates so low. Despite some fairly clear warnings that September is a “live” meeting. the market continues to see only a 24% probability of a rate hike in September, according to the CME’s Fed Watch tool.

New York Fed President William Dudley, San Francisco Fed President John Williams, and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart have pointed to a possible September move. Even Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer chimed in with some broadly hawkish comments. In the wake of these developments, Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago, said he did not understand why rate hike probabilities remain so low. “I am mystified at what the short-term futures market is looking at,” he said.

As Subprime Credit Cards Gain Popularity, Alarms Ring

Americans with poor credit scores sometimes take out credit cards in the hope of rebuilding their credit, but here’s one product that may add to their difficulties. Subprime credit cards, which are issued by subprime specialist issuers (SSIs), are targeted to the 48 million American consumers with credit scores below 600, which signals to lenders that they have past problems with handling credit and may not be a good bet. A subprime score will translate into higher interest rates because the lender wants to compensate for the higher default rate among these consumers.

These credit cards may create an expensive trap for consumers who are trying to improve their credit, according to a new study from financial site NerdWallet. Maintaining a credit card in good standing can be key to rebuilding a credit score, but subprime cards create tougher hurdles by charging high fees on top of high interest rates.

Plus, cardholder agreements from subprime issuers tend to be 70 percent longer than mainstream cards and written at a college reading level, although most of the consumers on the receiving end lack a college education. “They’re targeting undereducated people with overcomplicated offers,” said Sean McQuay, a credit card expert at NerdWallet. “They’re the payday loans of the credit card industry.”

The subprime credit card business can act in predatory ways, the study found. Not only are its cardholder agreements harder to understand than ones from mass-market issuers like Discover (DFS), but the SSIs appear to be ramping up their marketing to less educated consumers, NerdWallet said. SSIs’ share of mailings sent to households headed by someone without a college education doubled between 2012 to 2014, NerdWallet noted.

Hacking expert: 'Not surprised' hackers hit NY ...

Meet the Company Automating Your Fast-Food

More and more restaurants have been looking towards automating their services, and Nextep Systems is one of the leading companies behind the idea. Nextep began about eleven years ago by producing some of the first self-service kiosks. Now, early-adopting fast-food restaurants and stores use the technology, and more will be looking to come online soon. Improved technologies and lower costs, plus a reduced regulatory burden, make the concept an attractive idea for businesses.

“The purpose was basically to consume the queue lines, specifically at quick service restaurants and fast casual restaurants,” Nextep Marketing Vice President Chuck Wheeler told InsideSources. “During peak hours they would just be inundated with lunch goers and dinner goers.”

Nextep has provided services to local Subway restaurants, Au Bon Pain, Zoup and BurgerFi, among other establishments. Nextep was aiming to decrease lines and backlogs at stores, but as a result, their system offered increased profits for companies that could then serve more customers in a shorter period of time. “So we devised a system that would take orders at a very rapid pace and at high levels of precision,” Wheeler noted “We basically would eliminate the lines that existed and the net result of that was boosting their revenue 35 plus percent.”

Economists have found automation is a natural course of action as the economy continues to evolve. The question is whether regulations and minimum wages increase the rate in which automation happens. The White House Council of Economic Advisers detailed in a report Feb. 22 that technological innovations like automation are on the rise. “At the National Restaurant Association show in May, we heard a lot of restaurants, and a lot of systems, came to our booth with concerns about rising labor costs and high turnover,” Wheeler went on to say. “And they just don’t know without automation, without technology, how they’ll solve these problems.”

The Blessing of Cash

The Royal Bank of Scotland will become the first bank in the U.K. to impose a negative interest rate on depositors. The negative rate will apply only to corporate customers, including mutual fund managers and pension funds, holding deposits of certain foreign currencies including euros. This means that RBS—in which the U.K. government still maintains a majority ownership stake since its 2008 bailout—will actually charge these customers to “borrow” their deposits.

A few weeks ago, RBS notified more than one million small-business customers that they could also be charged for deposits if the Bank of England lowered the target interest rate, which now stands at .25%, into negative territory. Experts are warning that the latest move by RBS would “set alarm bells ringing” among small businesses and ordinary customers. The stage is set for a glorious and long overdue old-fashioned bank run if the BOE ventures to push rates into negative territory.

Meanwhile in the eurozone, since the ECB rate cut the interest rate in March to minus 0.4%, banks have paid a total of about 2.64 billion euros to keep their funds on deposit at the eurozone’s 19 central banks. With European central bankers threatening further rate cuts, private financial institutions are exploring the feasibility of circumventing the charges by converting central bank electronic deposit credits into cash and storing it in nonbank facilities. The German insurance company Munich Re is reportedly already storing tens of millions of euros at “a manageable cost,” and Commerzbank, Germany’s second biggest lender, is considering a similar option.

Of course any significant movement to convert bank reserves into cash would undermine the goal of central-bank rate cutting, because the cost of holding bank reserves in cold hard cash would not respond to a change in interest rates, short circuiting central bank efforts to stimulate further bank lending. More significant, if the movement to convert deposits into cash spreads to the nonbank public, it would bring down the fractional-reserve banking system in short order. And herein lies the real reason why prominent establishment economists are now leading the charge in the War on Cash.

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