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Showing posts from February, 2010

An Extraordinary Coup?

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Bill Totten sent me a very interesting article from David DeGraw published on Alternet, The Economic Elite Have Engineered an Extraordinary Coup, Threatening the Very Existence of the Middle Class:
"The American oligarchy spares no pains in promoting the belief that it does not exist, but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight." -- Michael Lind, To Have and to Have Not
We all have very strong differences of opinion on many issues. However, like our founding fathers before us, we must put aside our differences and unite to fight a common enemy.

It has now become evident to a critical mass that the Republican and Democratic parties, along with all three branches of our government, have been bought off by a well-organized Economic Elite who are tactically destroying our way of life. The harsh truth is that 99 percent of t…

Another US Slowdown Will Jolt Private Markets

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Reuters reports that according to ECRI, U.S. economic growth to ease by mid-year:
A forward-looking measure of U.S. economic growth was unchanged in the latest week, while its yearly growth gauge continued to slide, bolstering expectations that economic growth will ease by mid-year, a research group said on Friday. The Economic Cycle Research Institute, a New York-based independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index stood at 128.4 for the week ended Feb. 19, unchanged from the previous week.It was the lowest reading since November 13, 2009, when it stood at 127.5. The index's annualized growth rate declined for the 11th straight week to 14.9 percent from 17.0 percent the previous week, revised from an original 17.1 percent. It was the yearly growth gauge's lowest level since Aug. 7, 2009 when it read 14.6 percent. "The decline in WLI growth to a 28-week low reinforces our earlier expectation that economic growth would begin to ease by mid-year," said EC…

Caisse Reports 10% Return for 2009

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Paul Delean of the Montreal Gazette reports that the Caisse de Dépôt reports $11.5 billion gain for 2009:
It didn’t do as well as its peers or as badly as some expected.Quebec pension-fund manager La Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec generated a return from its investments of 10.04 per cent in 2009, a sub-par number when compared to other Canadian pension funds but a dramatic turnaround from its catastrophic loss of $40 billion in 2008.“We had a lot of issues to deal with at the start of the year. They’re dealt with. We put the train back on the track. Now we’ve got to get it up to cruising speed,” said president and CEO Michael Sabia, the former BCE chief who’ll mark his first full year at the helm next month.The Caisse ended the year with assets under management of $131.6 billion, up $11.5 billion from a year earlier.Its returns lagged its benchmark index by four points, but Sabia said it actually beat the benchmark in the second half of the year, an indication the many changes …

Is Bernanke Worried About Japanese Deflation?

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday that short-term interest rates would be kept near zero "for an extended period," and said the Fed will "evaluate" whether additional monetary stimulus of some sort is needed: Unemployment, not inflation, is "the biggest problem we have," he said.In testimony prepared for the House Financial Services Committee, Bernanke left the door open to further purchases of mortgage backed securities and agency debt beyond March, and in response to questions from committee members, he said the Fed would also be evaluating whether it should extend its financing of new commercial mortgage backed securities past June. Bernanke, presenting his semi-annual Monetary Policy Report to Congress on behalf of the Federal Open Market Committee, called the Fed's current monetary policy, which includes a 0-0.25% federal funds rate target and $1.1 trillion in bank reserves, "highly accommodative" and "very st…

Will the Lesser of Two Evils Prevail?

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David Pett at the National Post reports that Euro worsens deflation risk:
Since the Great Recession, there have been fears that the U.S. economy would follow in the footsteps of Japan, where economic activity and investment have been stagnant for more than two decades.More recently, however, prospects for recovery south of the border have improved and it is the European Union, struggling with a growing sovereign debt problem that could be headed for Japanese style deflation."The recent string of debt crises in Southern Europe has revealed the true financial frailty of the euro area economy," said Chen Zhao, managing editor, BCA Research Inc. " In fact, the economic snapshot of the eurozone looks very disturbing."Over the past two months, markets around the world have been rattled by the growing unease surrounding Greece's well-documented debt woes, but also by other eurozone nations, such as Portugal and Spain, also burdened by highly levered balance sheets.Whil…

The Ultimate Pension Plan?

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Just came back from Calgary and I'm tired so will keep this short. First, let me thank Ashton Embry and his wonderful wife for hosting me on Sunday evening. Ashton is the founder of direct-ms.org and is simply a great guy. His wife Joan cooked up a storm (absolutely delicious) and I got to meet two of his sons, their wives and his grandchildren. I truly enjoyed the evening and learned to drop vitamin D pills and go for vitamin D drops which I can add to my morning coffee.

In pension news, Hester Plumridge of the WSJ reports that BMW Drives New-Age Hopes for Pensions:
The U.K.'s pension nightmare is seemingly never-ending. But BMW's innovative deal with Deutsche Bank to insure £3 billion ($4.64 billion) of its pension liabilities, or the entirety of its pension-drawing work force of about 60,000, against increased longevity, offers hope to companies eager to reduce exposure to volatile pension deficits. It also offers a potential fresh lease on life to the U.K.'s stalled …

Pension Systems on the Brink?

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Robert Powell, editor at Retirement Weekly, wrote an editorial for MarketWatch on pension systems on the brink:
A train wreck waiting to happen. That's the only way to describe the mess that state pension systems are in right now, according to a report published today by the Pew Center on the States. According to Pew, there's a $1 trillion gap between the $3.35 trillion in pension, health care and other retirement benefits states promised their current and retired workers as of fiscal year 2008 and the $2.35 trillion they have on hand to pay them. What's worse, the gap may be even higher given that the study was conducted prior to the market collapsing in 2008 and given the way most states allow for smoothing of investment gains and losses over time.
How did this come to pass? And more importantly, what can be done to solve it? Investment losses account for part of the funding gap. But the bigger problem, according to Pew, is that many states simply fell behind on …