the stock market means nothing

“It’s almost worth the Great Depression to learn how little our big men know.” —Will Rogers

The bottom line is that there can be no rational expectation that things will get better.

…the mini-booms we’ve seen each year for the last 3 years were ephemeral, lasting only a few months. There is nothing mysterious about this in so far as these episodes were necessarily mirages.

These brief outbursts of hope did not rest upon a foundation of fundamental economic health.

Volatility is an expected outcome in an environment in which central banks alternately do and do not bankroll the stock market, which itself is an emotional non-indicator of our economic health.

In short, movements in the stock market mean nothing.

purchasing our mood

“I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them. The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing Disco Inferno than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar.” —Stephen King

free lunch of economic rent

Michael Hudson

Suppose you were alive back in 1945 and were told about all the new technology that would be invented between then and now: the computers and internet, mobile phones and other consumer electronics, faster and cheaper air travel, super trains and even outer space exploration, higher gas mileage on the ground, plastics, medical breakthroughs and science in general.

You would have imagined what nearly all futurists expected: that we would be living in a life of leisure society by this time. Rising productivity would raise wages and living standards, enabling people to work shorter hours under more relaxed and less pressured workplace conditions.

Why hasn’t this occurred in recent years? In light of the enormous productivity gains since the end of World War II – and especially since 1980 – why isn’t everyone rich and enjoying the leisure economy that was promised?

If the 99% is not getting the fruits of higher productivity, who is? Where has it gone?

the market that won’t market

Dan Crawford: 

The only commonality is that all of the medications we have seen in shortage status are off patent, generic medications, that are harder to formulate than various others and have a definable shelf life. 

President Obama has signed legislation that will give the FDA more latitude in heading off shortages, but this problem plainly reports to a market problem.

Demand exists, buyers are stable, but profits are not high on these medications. This would suggest that companies are simply avoiding generics and focusing on more profitable patented medications. 

Meanwhile, cancer trials have been put on hold… 

the football loophole

Journalist Joshua Benton says, “I’m sure there are good legal reasons why the NFL is a nonprofit.” 

How can that be?! 

Attorney Andrew Delaney says the NFL is a “glorified tax shelter.” 

The salary of National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell is $11,554,000 while the National Football League is a 501(c)(6) non-profit. 

Sportswriter Frank Deford says, “I believe that professional wrestling is clean and everything else in the world is fixed.” Maybe so. Maybe so. 

here’s hunger games

The Independent: 

Speculation by large investment banks is driving up food prices for the world’s poorest people, tipping millions into hunger and poverty. Investment in food commodities by banks and hedge funds has risen from $65bn to $126bn in the past five years, helping to push prices to 30-year highs and causing sharp price fluctuations that have little to do with the actual supply of food…

dumb opinions are raising gas prices

by Jocelyn Fong

This tolerance for unsubstantiated claims about gas prices is part of a larger pattern among many news outlets: In an effort to capture the political argument of the day, journalists often miss the larger, more interesting, and more important story.

What is the origin and the nature of our problem with gas prices?
What can we do about it?
Who supports and opposes those solutions?
Who benefits from the status quo?

If reporters aren’t framing their gas price coverage around these questions, they’re serving someone — but it’s not the public.

assets that always produce

by John Hempton

I consider myself a bit of a Buffettphile – but I did not even know Berkshire had a sizeable agricultural machinery operation. Sure agriculture has been good and because the capital equipment is a lean off that it has been very good. But this throw-away quote from the annual letter is astounding:

Vic Mancinelli again set a record at CTB, our agricultural equipment operation. We purchased CTB in 2002 for $139 million. It has subsequently distributed $180 million to Berkshire, last year earned $124 million pre-tax and has $109 million in cash. Vic has made a number of bolt-on acquisitions over the years, including a meaningful one he signed up after year end.

This business has – in a decade – distributed well over 100 percent of its purchase price in cash to Berkshire and its pre-tax earnings are roughly the acquisition price.

Of the thousands of listed companies in the world how many have been that good in the last decade. Surely not many.


assets that never produce


As ‘bandwagon’ investors join any party, they create their own truth – for a while.

Over the past 15 years, both Internet stocks and houses have demonstrated the extraordinary excesses that can be created by combining an initially sensible thesis with well-publicized rising prices.

In these bubbles, an army of originally skeptical investors succumbed to the ‘proof’ delivered by the market, and the pool of buyers – for a time – expanded sufficiently to keep the bandwagon rolling. But…

we uncover fools

We uncover fools. Our mass media fails.

Glen Beck’s gold company forced to make refunds.

He told listeners and viewers that he personally bought gold from the company and calling its executives “people I trust.”

Prosecutors in Santa Monica charged six of Goldline’s executives with fraud and accused the company of running a bait-and-switch operation that lured customers into buying overpriced antique coins as investments—coins that Beck promoted on his shows. The Santa Monica city attorney obtained a judgment and injunction against Goldline that requires the company to radically overhaul its practices and to stop deceiving customers about prices, among other things.

Millions of citizens led astray. We can’t afford that.

we remix everything

Kirby Ferguson examines modern attitudes toward “intellectual property” and how these attitudes rather counterintuitively stifle creativity rather than fostering it.

This is social evolution.

Copy, transform and combine. It’s who we are, it’s how we live, and of course, it’s how we create. Our new ideas evolve from the old ones.

But our system of law doesn’t acknowledge the derivative nature of creativity. Instead, ideas are regarded as property, as unique and original lots with distinct boundaries.

But ideas aren’t so tidy. They’re layered, they’re interwoven, they’re tangled. And when the system conflicts with the reality… the system starts to fail.

too dogged economy

Stafford Ray:

Primary Producers are at the center where all loops begin. They grow and raise food so they are not working in an expendable industry.

My maternal grandfather was a farmer who used horses for everything from hauling logs to powering the sulky that took him and Grandma to town. But that all changed when he bought a tractor. Tractors do not eat grass and do not self propagate, so his purchase started a second line of loops that include tractor manufacturers, whose demand for materials created the next level of loops of miners, oil drillers, refiners, service mechanics, you get the picture.

More tractor manufacturers joined in so dealerships sprang up and new loops were formed that managed sales for manufacturing, a services not directly producing food or an object we can see and feel. But soon the dealer no longer had time to sweep out his showroom so he hired a cleaner and yet another loop was created.

Then the cleaner became so busy he hired Jim’s Pooch Grooming Service and now, every Thursday morning, Deefer gets a wash and a brush, her claws trimmed and anal glands expressed and yet another class of loops was added.

We need these loops to create employment as productivity increases and industry continues to automate but we now have more people in outer loops than inner loops and it is these outer loops that are first to go when money gets tight.