Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm
by Mark Pagel
A tiny number of ideas can go a long way, as we’ve seen. And the Internet makes that more and more likely. What’s happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we’re being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet.
We’re being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard.
My worry is that we could be moving in that direction, towards becoming more and more sort of docile copiers [continue]…
Posted January 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm
by Don Watkins and Yaron Brook
Reacting to calls for cuts in entitlement programs, House Democrat Henry Waxman fumed: “The Republicans want us to repeal the 20th century.” Sound bites don’t get much better than that.
After all, the world before the 20th century—before the New Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society—was a dark, dangerous, heartless place where hordes of Americans starved in the streets.
Except it wasn’t, and they didn’t. The actual history of America shows something else entirely: Picking your neighbors’ pockets is not a necessity of survival. Before America’s entitlement state, free individuals planned for and coped with tough times, taking responsibility for their own lives.
In the 19th century, even though capitalism had existed for only a short time and had just started putting a dent in precapitalism’s legacy of poverty, the vast, vast majority of Americans were already able to support their own lives through their own productive work. One estimate puts the ratio of paupers to a 1 million population in 1890 at 1,166. Only a tiny fraction of a sliver of a minority depended on assistance and aid—and there was no shortage of aid available to help that minority.
But in a culture that revered individual responsibility and regarded being “on the dole” as shameful, formal charity was [continue]…
Posted January 9, 2012 at 3:27 am
by Rhiannon Hoyle and Francesca Freeman
There are few assets that stir up the emotions quite like gold. Love is declared using it, nations have fought wars over it; even its categorization as a “precious” metal puts it into a different class. But what is it about the shiny, yellow metal, which ultimately has few industrial uses, that causes it to represent such great value that as soon as it’s dug up, huge swathes of it are locked securely away in vaults?
Experts in behavioral finance put it down to a combination of factors, mostly psychological. Gold’s value is largely defined by the emotional, historical and cultural baggage that has been attached to it over thousands of years.
Yale University economics professor Robert Shiller, who is also a former vice president of the American Economic Association, says:
“The reason why people buy gold seems to be the same reason why people stick with old religions. Anything people have stuck with for thousands of years must have some merits, right?”
Investor returns on gold have certainly been rewarding in recent years [WW Note: the editors here don't classify gold as an "investment."]. Having fallen out of the investment mainstream during the 80s and 90s following a relatively appalling performance, gold began a steady, decade-long bull run that rapidly accelerated following the global financial crisis. In the year after the October 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, the spot price of gold traded in Europe rocketed by 50%.
As the world’s largest economies continue to struggle with sovereign debt, high unemployment and sluggish economic growth, gold’s path higher has continued. In 2011, spot gold has soared 47% from a January low at just over $1,300/oz to an all-time high at $1,920.94/oz in early September.
But if fear and anxiety has been driving gold’s gains, why is the precious metal seen as a so-called safe-haven in the first place? [continue]….
Posted January 9, 2012 at 1:10 am
by Miriam Metzinger
On a day when the Dow rose 180 points, Cramer discussed the top 10 bearish myths of 2011.
1. The U.S. would be one of the worst performing markets. The Dow was up 5.5%, led by McDonald’s (MCD) up 30%, IBM, rallying 25% and Pfizer (PFE) up 24%. All of these stocks performed well in spite of having significant European exposure.
2. The dollar was going to go down. The dollar index started 2011 at 79 and finished at 80.
3. Interest rates had to go higher. “Buying U.S. treasurys in 2011 was the trade of a lifetime,” Cramer said.
4. Oil trades with other commodities. As commodities declined, oil still went higher.
5. Our natural gas reserves are understated.
6. Gold peaked when we headed down. While gold didn’t finish the year at its high, the GLD ETF (GLD) gained 10% for the year.
7. The euro is falling apart. Actually, FXE finished 2011 where it started.
8. Big pharma is dead. Pfizer was one of the top performers of the Dow. Eli Lilly (LLY) rose 25% and Bristol Myers (BMY) zoomed 40%.
9. The Consumer is not spending. Consumer spending actually has been strong.
10. The Dogs of the Dow are the place to be. Alcoa (AA), Bank of America (BAC) and Hewlett Packard (HPQ) are all performing badly.
Miriam Metzinger is a freelance financial writer and editor with extensive experience in the personal finance field. On Seeking Alpha, Miriam is responsible for recaps of Jim Cramer’s stock picks and excerpts from leading financial publications.
Posted January 4, 2012 at 1:20 am
Click the image to enlarge and get the answer the the question:
Posted January 3, 2012 at 12:11 am
Managing Editor, The Wealth Vault
In early November last year, a respected asset protection attorney (I’ll call him Mr. D) decided he needed a good scare story to give the people on his prospect list a reason to widen their eyes — and keep them open, fueled by addicting fear (his hope, at least).
He explained how because a small fry county in Alabama (Jefferson county) had the largest default on Municipal Bonds in U.S. history (dwarfing the previous record holder, Orange County) that we should all just simply [paraphrased] batten down the hatches.
In investing parlance, the message was: keep staying vigilant for such severe debt stresses on the economic system and keep your money in lock-down mode.
In his own words, “I personally see this municipal bond default as the ‘canary in the coal mine‘.” Er, yeah sure… just like Silver was.
Yet, the first line of his email was: “My goal in this email is to convey a sense of urgency without panic.”
Oh, well, so much for him keeping his initial desire and intent congruent with how he finished up.
Of, course, with the Barry chicken-little meter then on full red alert, and my grander sense of calling BS out on itself, I had to fire off an email to Mr. D.
It went like this…
Posted January 2, 2012 at 1:20 am
by Doug Casey
This isn’t a quote from Mencken, Gibbon or Bakunin – my perennial favorites. But I’ll warrant they all would approve of the sentiments. I saw the essence of this on the Prison Planet website and then modified it a bit. It owes its format to comedian Jeff Foxworthy, whose routine is heavy on lists that start with “You might be a (pick a word – redneck is his favorite) if…”
I’d be impressed if Foxworthy added this list to his skit. But he won’t, because it strikes way too close to home. It’s kind of cool being a redneck in some circles. But not so cool being a slave, even though there are about three hundred million of them in the US. So Foxworthy won’t use this routine for that reason alone – but also because it’s not funny.
You might be a slave if…
1. You hate when your alarm clock buzzes: If you don’t wake up every day with fantastic anticipation to be alive, you might be living under someone else’s command. In fact, if you have to wake up at the same time every day, you’re probably someone’s slave, especially if you then have to spend an hour commuting to a job you despise, because your time and life belongs to someone else.
2. You’re forced to pay for causes you vehemently oppose: If you’re a peaceful person but are forced to pay for wars done in your name, you might be a slave. Likewise, if you’re forced to pay for corporate welfare of failed institutions while you struggle to stay healthy, you’re surely a slave.
3. You expect someone else to take care of you: If someone other than yourself takes care of you, then you’re likely beholden to them in countless ways. Be careful, you might be a slave if you demand that the government give you something other than freedom.
4. You must follow laws that your Master may break: If the rule of law only applies to you and your lowly peers, while the Masters get away with murder, you’re clearly a slave in an unjust system.
5. You think mob rule is better than personal freedom: If you believe that majority rule is always better for you than free will, then you’re most certainly a slave.
6. You condemn beliefs of others you don’t even know: If you’re taught to hate the beliefs of others who have never harmed you, then your mind has been thoroughly confined by your Master’s implanted beliefs.
7. You believe people should be caged for consuming a product: If you believe that it’s okay to cage humans for consuming a product in private, then you probably love your enslavement.
8. You’re forced to wear a uniform: If you’re forced into a dress code of any kind, possibly including a suit and tie, you’re a show clown with someone to impress in order to receive your daily bread.
9. You watch over 20 hours of TV per week: And if you do that, you probably believe most of what they tell you.
10. You grin and make supplicating noises when dealing with a cop, a customs agent, or (if you’re really degraded) even a TSA goon. Clearly, you’re in fear of The Man.
Posted December 12, 2011 at 12:23 am
by Leigh Drogen
I’m so excited to write this post, mainly because I know the amount of vitriol I’m going to get for it. Among other topics, the inequality of wealth ranks right up at the top in the inability of people to read the words written on the page instead of giving the writer’s words their own spin.
Such is life, people never change, but I can ask that you make the attempt to at least pretend to give it a read without injecting your own views, at least until the end, let’s take it one step at a time I guess.
Here are the facts: income inequality in the United States has been increasing since the 1970′s according to the IRS. As of 2007 the United States had one of the highest levels of income inequality among developed nations. Between the 1940′s and 1970′s income inequality actually decreased.
Between 1979 and 2005, the mean after-tax income for the top 1% increased by 176%, compared to an increase of 69% for the top quintile overall, 20% for the fourth quintile, 21% for the middle quintile, 17% for the second quintile and 6% for the bottom quintile. For the same time span the aggregate share of after-tax income held by the top percentile increased from 7.5% to 14%.
Now, I can throw all the statistics at you that you’ll ever want to know, but statistics are statistics and they can be bent every which way. If you want just about all of them, just go to this Wikipedia page, it’s surprisingly awesome on the subject.
My point here is not to make a statistical argument, anyone can do that in either direction, arguing different correlations and causations. I just wanted to briefly show you that income inequality is indeed rising.
What I would like to talk about here, is whether or not this is a problem, should be counteracted, or even can be counteracted.
First off, when someone hears that income inequality is increasing, I don’t believe they quite understand that the who pie has been increasing rapidly as well. Those in the lower percentiles of income are [continue]…
Posted December 9, 2011 at 3:42 am
by The Daily Bell staff
Mystery company buying up U.S. gun manufacturers … Some gun enthusiasts have claimed that the power behind the company is actually George Soros, the hedge-fund billionaire and liberal activist. Soros, these people have warned, is buying U.S. gun companies so he can dismantle the industry, Second Amendment be damned.
The chatter grew so loud that the National Rifle Association issued a statement in October denying the rumors. “NRA has had contact with officials from Cerberus and Freedom Group for some time,” the NRA assured its members. “The owners and investors involved are strong supporters of the Second Amendment and are avid hunters and shooters.” Soros isn’t behind the Freedom Group, but, ultimately, another financier is: Stephen Feinberg, the chief executive of Cerberus. Cerberus is part of one of the signature Wall Street businesses of the past decade: private equity. – New York Times
Dominant Social Theme: It’s just business, nothing more to it.
Free-Market Analysis: Another subdominant social theme? It’s always the same. The Anglosphere power elite is on its way to buying up all the oil, water and farmland in the world (with or without China), or so it seems, and we are told it is the evolution of the free-market economy. Sure …
And now … guns. Not George Soros, mind you. The NRA – an elitist, Trojan Horse of an organization itself – has assured us that the folks behind the purchases are “strong supporters of the Second Amendment.” The NRA added, “We have a mighty fine bridge connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn that we’d like to sell you.”
Oh, sorry – we just made up that last part. Anyway, this is how the power elite likes to work, it seems to us. Every move to support global governance is likely cloaked and hidden. There are always justifications. If it is not a war, or a “human tragedy” that necessitates further centralization, then it is “market forces” at work. But in fact, it is always directed history …
Posted December 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm
by Barry Goss
When you think of hedging — in the context of money, betting (i.e., “hedge your bets”), investing, etc. — what comes to mind?
To offset, to protect, to reduce the risk of loss, right? Gold and the word “hedge” almost go hand-in-hand… yet a majority of investors still aren’t exactly “clear” on a hedge against what…
I’ll cut right to the chase: whether you should be buying, holding or selling physical gold today will depend on your personal circumstances, which include your net worth and how much of it is or isn’t already backed by value-increasing and/or inflation-protecting assets; your level of suspicion against our fiat monetary system and whether it can or will be sustainable during your and your children’s life; and your level of fear for a financial doomsday scenario.
Yet, if you or anybody you know think you should be using it to hedge against stocks, you’re playing into one big untruth.
Always remember: the price of stocks — via well-run companies which sell quality products that people need and desire — increase in sustainable ways over time. The price of gold fluctuates through extreme boom and bust periods that are created by either the absence or presence of fear and perceptions of financial and/or political uncertainty.
To say it differently: eventually we humans figure out how to clean up our own collective shit… which will include that stench and stupidity coming out of Washington and other political power cities throughout the world.
One last appeal, then I’ll get off the bandwagon: physical gold is a monetary asset used as a last-resort savings medium. It has an excellent crisis-hedge to it.
Please ONLY use it for what it’s intended for. Look at it as a physical form of savings, not as something to buy due to price. Instead, leave that up to trading vehicles, like the vetted and archives ones inside our Vault….