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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,639

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“A Total Illusion from QE and Financial Engineering”

“A Total Illusion from QE and Financial Engineering”
by Harry Dent • April 22, 2016

The 10-Year Treasury Is Less Than You Think

By Harry Dent, Economy & Markets

When the Fed was created in 1914, it was set to task of controlling short-term interest rates in an attempt to iron out financial cycles. It succeeded for many years. But by avoiding the natural rebalancing (and occasional pain) from free markets, we just got a bigger bubble into 1929. Then, when it finally burst, we got the greatest depression in all of modern history!

Since the Fed and other central banks were created, they have always manipulated short-term interest rates to try to encourage borrowing and spending in slowdowns – to make the natural economic cycle “go away.”

And every time, it suppresses the economic cycles that were already in place, until finally they come roaring back.

So it always strikes me as funny to see highly educated, seemingly reasonable people in pin-striped suits and pantsuits stand in front of us and basically say that there’s a free lunch after all – that we can get something for nothing!

To them, economics is no longer a matter of supply and demand, free markets and rebalancing. They think we’ve found a way to program the economy so we never have a recession again.

All the apparent education and sophistication of these top economists, financial officials and central bankers boils down to this simple automaton explanation: if we don’t keep taking more of the financial drug that we used to keep the bubble going, like zero interest rates and QE, we will collapse and go into detox. ..................(more)


Denver's new airport train starts service

(USA Today) DENVER — The newest departure from Denver International Airport isn’t a plane – it’s a train.

Local authorities on Friday launched a new Denver-DIA train service aimed at whisking people from the airport to Denver’s Union Station in just 37 minutes for $9. The train leaves the airport starting around 4 am weekdays, and runs every 15 minutes until nearly 1:30 am. DIA is the country’s fifth-busiest airport, with 53 million passengers a year, and the train is a long-missing transportation option.

“This is a major element for our growing up as a global city,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.

The airport, although technically in Denver, is actually 23 miles from downtown, and the drive often takes far longer than the usual 35 minutes due to heavy traffic on Interstate 70. The train makes six stops between downtown and the airport, carrying up to 180 passengers at a time. The cars were designed to accommodate travelers with luggage, and have power outlets to charge cellphones. ................(more)


Baseball has no choice but to expand outside the U.S.

(MarketWatch) If Major League Baseball wants to expand to 32 teams, it’s going to have to get more people interested in the 30 it already has.

During a meeting with sports editors from the Associated Press last week, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested that “multiples of fours just work better than multiples of fives” for scheduling league games. He also indicated that such expansion wouldn’t be immediate, but that “if we were to expand, I do think a city that makes sense geographically — meaning in terms of realistic travel distances and is outside of the 48 contiguous states — would be a positive choice for us in terms of growing the game.”

We understand the excitement on the part of the league. It just held a successful exhibition between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team in Cuba, its World Baseball Classic is coming up again next year and nearly a quarter of MLB players come from outside the U.S. Meanwhile, Montreal, which lost the Expos franchise to D.C. in 2005, drew 53,000 fans to watch the Boston Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training. Montreal even has a group of supporters pushing for a team, if not a viable home field in Olympic Stadium. One of those supporters? Manfred himself.

“I think, even if I didn’t want to say this, the mayor of Montreal would probably tell you, if you walked past him on the street, that I have met with him on a number of occasions,” Manfred said. “They have expressed a strong desire to have Major League Baseball back in Montreal. That’s a good thing. People want baseball.”

That level of enthusiasm for baseball hasn’t been all that easy to come by in the U.S. Last year, five of baseball’s 30 teams — the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland Athletics, the Miami Marlins, the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays — drew less than half of the 48,000 Montreal has been averaging for spring-training games. Three of those teams — Atlanta, Tampa and Cleveland — averaged crowds of half or less of their stadium’s capacity during home games last season. ...............(more)


What Comes After Capitalism? Upcoming Teach-Ins Can Show a Way Forward

What Comes After Capitalism? Upcoming Teach-Ins Can Show a Way Forward

Thursday, 21 April 2016 00:00
By Gar Alperovitz and Ben Manski, Truthout | Op-Ed

An extraordinary process of change is about to explode this month on campuses and in communities across the United States. Thousands of Americans are coming together in dozens of locations to take on the question of what kind of system should replace capitalism. The process is called the Next System Teach-Ins.

Teach-ins to address the fundamental question of how to move beyond capitalism will be taking place on campuses as well as in community centers and correctional facilities -- most between Earth Day (April 22) and May Day (May 1), following kickoff events this month at the New School and the City University of New York (CUNY) system in New York City; and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The largest teach-in is planned for the University of California, Santa Barbara, between April 26 and 28. Major sessions from that campus will be live-streamed into classrooms, house parties and workplaces across the world.

The idea that capitalism as a system may be coming to an end, that something new must ultimately be created, is no longer restricted to groups on the political left. Survey after survey has found millions of Americans embracing ideas far different from business as usual. A January 2016 poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers, even in a state like Iowa, found that 43 percent described themselves as "socialist" -- a higher percentage than those who self-identified as "capitalist." Eighty-four percent of Democratic voters under the age of 30 voted for the self-described "democratic socialist" candidate Bernie Sanders, and one-third of all Sanders supporters have told pollsters they will vote for the Green Party's Jill Stein in the general election if Sanders is not the Democratic Party nominee.

Nor is the understanding that the current system is not the be-all and end-all of history restricted to progressives in general. Long before anti-capitalism found mass expression in the Sanders campaign, four years ago, in 2012, Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum -- the annual gathering of corporate and financial leaders in Davos, Switzerland -- declared: "Capitalism in its current form no longer fits the world around us." .....................(more)


Unemployment changes support for sharing the wealth

from Ars Technica:

Unemployment changes support for sharing the wealth
People begin to believe in wealth redistribution while unemployed.

by Roheeni Saxena - Apr 21, 2016 10:12am EDT

Unemployment obviously has economic effects on people, but it can also have psychological impacts, sometimes triggering depressive episodes. However, until now, there has been no quantitative research evaluating consequences of unemployment on people’s feelings about money. A study published in PNAS finds that unemployment changes how people think about entitlement.

The study defines entitlement as the acknowledgement that someone has a right to keep, consume, or dispose of things that they have earned, including their salary. The idea of entitlement is important for understanding the labor market and workers’ self-interest. Generally, people who earn a higher income tend to be more self-interested, with minimal preference for wealth redistribution, whereas lower-income individuals tend to think that wealthier people should pay more taxes and poorer people should be eligible for social support.

The study examined participants’ attitudes on wealth redistribution and wealth entitlement twice, with a year-long gap between experiments. This setup allowed the researchers to study people who transitioned between various states of employment in the interim. The study was conducted in Spain, which has the third highest unemployment rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The attrition rate was 48 percent between the two experiments, and this paper focuses on 151 participants who were either employed or students for both experiments, or employed/students for the first experiment and unemployed for the second.

To test the relationship between employment and feelings of entitlement, participants were asked to play a game. They were provided with some play currency and told to make a decision regarding distributing the currency among themselves and three other people who were playing with them. The final wealth distribution would be picked at random among the four players’ suggestions. ..................(more)


Foe to Friend: Hillary Clinton and the Health Insurance Industry (from Michael Moore's "SiCKO")

The Al-Qaeda Leader Who Wasn’t: The Shameful Ordeal of Abu Zubaydah

from TomDispatch:

The Al-Qaeda Leader Who Wasn’t
The Shameful Ordeal of Abu Zubaydah

By Rebecca Gordon

The allegations against the man were serious indeed.

* Donald Rumsfeld said he was “if not the number two, very close to the number two person” in al-Qaeda.

* The Central Intelligence Agency informed Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee that he “served as Usama Bin Laden’s senior lieutenant. In that capacity, he has managed a network of training camps... He also acted as al-Qaeda’s coordinator of external contacts and foreign communications.”

* CIA Director Michael Hayden would tell the press in 2008 that 25% of all the information his agency had gathered about al-Qaeda from human sources “originated” with one other detainee and him.

* George W. Bush would use his case to justify the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation program,” claiming that “he had run a terrorist camp in Afghanistan where some of the 9/11 hijackers trained” and that “he helped smuggle al-Qaeda leaders out of Afghanistan” so they would not be captured by U.S. military forces.

None of it was true.


Zubaydah’s story is -- or at least should be -- the iconic tale of the illegal extremes to which the Bush administration and the CIA went in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. And yet former officials, from CIA head Michael Hayden to Vice President Dick Cheney to George W. Bush himself, have presented it as a glowing example of the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” to extract desperately needed information from the “evildoers” of that time. .............(more)


The Commons Collaborative Economy Explodes in Barcelona

The Commons Collaborative Economy Explodes in Barcelona

Sunday, 24 April 2016 00:00
By Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel, Commons Transition | Report

Cities have personalities -- they're often described as we would people. They can be dry, manic, laid-back, iconic. Barcelona is what you might call a tonic. Always known as a vivid and creative city, Barcelona is taking the lead as an exemplary change agent on the European stage. Its DIY vigor and urgent form of citizen-level democracy are palpable, contagious, and best of all, effective.

This is a city that has been reinvented by activism. A formidable woman by the name of Ada Colau, herself a longtime front-line activist for housing rights, is now the mayor. As a woman, as an activist, as a mayor, she's a good stand-in for the city itself and the radical positive changes it's making.

But that's not to say that Ada Colau is responsible for all the whirlwind political and civic change. Barcelona is not a city in reform from the top down; it's a city in transformation from the bottom up, and up, and up. It's taking on the challenges of economic and civic change from an inclusive and deliberate position, maturing its street-level praxis into a political force that won't be contained by its own borders. It's ready to share its hard-won knowledge and experience with others internationally.

Barcelona is not alone in its evolution. From our point of view, 2016 is shaping up to be a turning-point year in which the Sharing and Collaborative Economies enter a period of intense self-examination and reinvention, and the emergence of the Commons model or paradigm comes forward to affect powerful change. For example, OuiShare, early and perhaps earnest proponents of the Sharing Economy from its inception, has taken "After the Gold Rush" as its OuiShareFest 2016 theme title. Clever allusions to Neil Young aside, the sentiment expressed is quite clear. It's time to examine what's left after the public image spikes and crashes of so many Sharing Economy darlings; time to pick up the pieces and work harder than ever to re-invent, re-purpose what remains and, perhaps most of all, re-decentralize. Everything. .............(more)


Chicago: U.S. Senate Panel Backs $100M for Red, Purple Line Revamp

IL: U.S. Senate Panel Backs $100M for Red, Purple Line Revamp

Mary Wisniewski On Apr 22, 2016
Source: McClatchy

April 21--The U.S. Senate appropriations committee on Thursday passed a bill that includes $100 million for modernization of the CTA Red and Purple lines.

The appropriation toward the multibillion-dollar plan to update the rail lines north of Belmont Avenue next goes to the Senate floor, where it is backed by both Illinois senators, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Dick Durbin. Both sit on the transportation, housing and urban development subcommittee that approved the appropriation earlier this week.

The project is a multiphase program to completely rebuild and add passenger capacity to the northern section of the Red Line, as well as the Purple Line north of Belmont. Much of the infrastructure of this section of the CTA is nearly 100 years old.

The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $2.1 billion, which includes carrying the Brown Line tracks over the Clark Street junction north of Belmont, and the reconstruction of four Red Line stations and all elevated structures between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr avenues.

The funds would come through the Federal Transit Administration's Core Capacity grants, which total $332 million, according to a statement from Kirk's office. The grants pay for capital investments that will increase capacity by at least 10 percent. .......(more)


Democracy Spring and the US Voting Matrix: How Much of the Electoral Process Is Illusory?

Democracy Spring and the US Voting Matrix: How Much of the Electoral Process Is Illusory?

Sunday, 24 April 2016 00:00
By Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report

The parallel Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening mobilizations wrapped their week of sit-ins protesting the corrosive influence of money in politics and voter suppression at the US Capitol on Monday, tallying more than 1,400 arrests.

Launching with a 10-day march from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, the movement hosted rallies, speakers and teach-ins last week, along with lobbying members of Congress. The protests broke the record for the most nonviolent arrests at the Capitol in a single week, culminating Monday with arrests of leaders from the civil rights, labor and environmental movements.

NAACP president Cornell Brooks, Communication Workers of America president Chris Shelton and Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard were among those who helped lead the Democracy Awakening mobilization on Monday, which also aimed to pressure Republicans to confirm President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, to the Supreme Court.

"This is a moment where we are at a crisis point in our democracy. This is a moment where we enter the first presidential election in 50 years, a more than half-century, without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act," Brooks said during a press call before his arrest. "This is a moment where we have the votes of citizens suppressed and stolen before the election, and the votes of legislators bought and sold after the election."

The protests demonstrate the public's demand for deeper participation in the nation's electoral process during an election cycle that will be the most expensive in US history, and in which, for the first time in a presidential election year, 17 states have new voting restrictions in place. Those restrictions have already disenfranchised millions of people -- many of them in New York City, where Tuesday's bungled Primary Day sparked an investigation into the city's Board of Elections, after widespread reports that voters experienced problems in accessing polls or found that they were wrongly removed from voter rolls. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer's office reported 125,000 voters in Brooklyn were told they were not on the rolls Tuesday. ..........(more)


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