Posted by: thefinancedude | June 3, 2008

Two Pennies – June 3, 2008

Skyrocketing gasoline prices force changes

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-gas3-2008jun03,0,6874230.story

 

“You’re seeing more Americans trying to work from home, finding jobs that are closer to their homes or moving to new homes that are closer to their jobs,” Portalatin said. “These are fundamental changes.”

 

Lets follow this trend.  More and more people at different stages of denial will begin adopting the same attitudes.  I must reduce the use based purely on cost.  Don’t get me wrong, most of us will hang on to our cars till we’re dead.  We might move within five miles of work and still use our cars because we demand the freedom of mobility.  This is the scariest part of the coming transformation. 

 

We will attempt to maintain this mobility even though we’ve only been enjoying this non negotiable lifestyle for a little over fifties years.  Sure the assembly line was invented a few decades before, however war efforts shut down all private industry.  We became a war machine and arguably within the context of the limiting variables, no one can ever come close to the total efficiency achieved in our efforts to achieve victory.

 

Those people, who are cognizant of this trend now, will be prepared to cash in.  Distressed properties close to any mass transit will be rewarded albeit not at the moment.  I remember hearing from all my fathers’ friends that GM owns patents on technology that would give us like 100 mpg and that was when they used carburetors.  I didn’t believe it then, so if anyone knows where we can find the information on this technology I would love to see it.  I just can’t believe GM and Ford would bankrupt their companies holding out.  It doesn’t add up.

 

“The price of oil is going to have to go down before gasoline begins to decline, because we’ve already seen that demand for gas has been dropping,” said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

 

If you’re hoping for this to stop, you’ll be left behind.  To understand why this is happening we need basic geology and a dash of math.  Oil is trapped inside ROCKS and we drill into them and they pop like a pimple.  When they stop gushing on their own, we inject gases into the wells to squeeze out more puss, er oil.  Each well ramps up production and then trails off – a bell curve.  All the oil wells in the world follow this pattern to different degrees.  When they all reach an average peak, the world has peaked.  From that moment on, you’ll never see the same or equivalent amount of oil. 

 

We’re currently on a plateau with the world hoping something pushes us higher.  There are no oil fields that can possibly make up for the declines of the old fields.  It’s here and understanding that there is a NEW Industrial revolution upon us is required.  Leave your old thinking behind and begin to think outside the box you’ve grown up inside.  It’s hard, but as Einstein said, “You can not solve problems with the same thinking that got you there.”

 

“If the dollar continues to stabilize and we don’t get any big storms in the Gulf [of Mexico], I see no reason for the market going higher,” said Phil Flynn, vice president and energy analyst for Alaron Trading Co. in Chicago.

 

Remember what Katrina did to prices?  That was when they got pushed to $2/gal. If we spiked 30% from here, we’re north of $5 real quick.  Plan accordingly.  Risks are extremely high.

 

Airlines Face ‘Desperate’ Situation, Official Says

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/business/worldbusiness/03air.html?_r=2&ref=business&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

 

“It’s not an industry problem anymore — it’s an economic disaster for countries if we fade,” Mr. Bisignani said. “You can’t cross the Atlantic on a train.”

 

Perhaps the new paradigm has shifted the structure of travel.  Perhaps people won’t be able to afford the LUXURY of flying.  We must begin paying for travel with our time.  At one point it was financially feasible to burn oil to fly, but the precious resource is becoming harder to extract.

 

Flying moved from a novelty for the upper crust, to the regular folks and the pendulum is swinging back.  Perhaps the only feasible use for air travel will be to cross a giant ocean with speed, rather than the land masses in between.  We have not prepared as the Europeans did and I know they’re privately enjoying what happens when a rich, fat country believes our own lies.

 

“We fight crisis after crisis with our hands tied because flags, not brands, define our business,” he added. “This must change.”

 

He criticized the European Parliament for imposing 100 amendments to its emissions trading plans after the International Civil Aviation Organization had already agreed to ambitious environmental goals.

 

I had no clue there was so much restriction on European airlines.  I know there were domestic competition issues like Dallas Love Field in Texas.  Southwest was actively denied access to fly somewhere because some bureaucrat was buddy buddy with their competitor.  It would hurt business so people were forced to pay more to travel between two select cities.  What nonsense!

 

It’s ironic that after letting this develop in such a way, we’re now overreacting in a manner that will force morals and capitalism to collide. My bet is on capitalism, you?

 

World food crisis: Production must rise by 50%, says UN chief

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/03/food.unitednations

“Any such figure is always an estimate but when the population is rising rapidly, you need more food. It needs to be done in a way that supports people rather than undermining them.”

If you want to support people, you make them pay market prices.  Market prices communicate scarcity and force rationing onto people rather than rationing forcing shortages.  People who grow it will have an incentive to squeeze out more production knowing he will be paid for it. 

Industry provided the green revolution in the middle of last century.  Turns out it wasn’t a green revolution so much as an oil conversion.  We burn oil to grow food – from the fertilizers, to the diesel powered tractors, to the transportation system to reach markets. 

“We need to make it possible. It’s a question of political will and investing in agriculture.”

Pope Benedict XVI today told the summit hunger and malnutrition were “unacceptable” in a world that had enough resources.

 

Malthus made a bold statement in 1798 when he stated that population increases faster than the food supply.  Misery then acts as a check on additional increases to population.  People generally speaking, don’t want to bring in kids who will just die.  Birth control wasn’t around though so I suppose they really did depend on this to kill off marginal offspring. 

 

Malthus may have been accurate in his time however it appears that food supply output exploded in the last half century mainly due to increased productivity of fields. Some data sets can be had here.  For a short time it appears output increased faster than population leading to the exponential surge in population based on prices communicating surpluses.  

 

If anyone believes that hunger and malnutrition are preventable, please send me your proposals.  There will always be rich, there will always be poor and there will always be more people who call themselves in the middle.  Nature, which we struggle to identify as a separate entity, is harsh and we can not change this course. It serves as the price to be paid for imprudent planning.

 

Each of us can, if we so choose, to attempt to help others, but we do so at a cost.  Most of us intuitively realize this and quickly change subjects.  There will never be an end to poverty any more than there will be an end to being wealthy.  The only way out is to raise everyone’s standards to that of the wealthy, while they figure out how to set new standards.  Then we whine about the living conditions of the poor.  It’s all relative when the poor inside the US have big screen TV’s and washing machines.

 

At one point only royalty had a lawn to manicure.  Now it’s an American birth right practically. Look at my yard, its greener!  Forget that I had to dump a bunch of natural gas on it to happen, ITS GREEN! Our priority has been misguided and there has been little leadership. 

Worse we’re so deluded by our “leadership” we can’t think for ourselves. We were a nation of dissidents, what happened? Even those immigrants had a spirit of defiance as they ended their patrimony to country. Stop thinking of us and them and start thinking about yourself and how you can survive.  If each of us would focus on ourselves instead of each other, we could concentrate long enough to do something meaningful for us all.

 

Food output will not increase 50%, so let’s agree the rich countries stand the best chance to weather this storm. Limits to growth have been reached and nature is fighting back.  Unless we manage to create those micro black holes that suck us into oblivion, we’ll be put in our places kicking and screaming by the source.

 

 

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Posted by: thefinancedude | May 30, 2008

Two Pennies – May 30, 2008

PILE ON THE REALTORS

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/28/business/28realty.html?em&ex=1212206400&en=84ac07abfdaa2a90&ei=5087%0A

 

Holy crap batman!  This is self explanatory.  Competition increases lower consumer prices.  Funny how Bush selects the realtors to take the beating, but farmers don’t or name your subsidized/protected industry doesn’t. Pharmaceuticals deserve no special treatment and it’s looking more and more like you can cure things much simpler than the ways we’ve marketed thus far.  A great article was written on this by Bill Sardi available at

http://www.lewrockwell.com/sardi/sardi84.html

 

The article is filled with lots of medical language and chemistry for those of you inclined.  I can understand enough of this to conclude logically it has a chance based on the trial numbers. What do you think the big pharma companies would do if some little start up starts producing this marginally above cost?  I bet they would be shut down as big pharma uses their Gestapo gang known as government to wield the big stick.  You lose. How pioneering could this be?  Who knows, but let’s look at the money to be made.

It cannot be said the Gc-MAF cancer cure has gone unheralded. Reuters News covered this developing story in January. But the news story still did not receive top billing nor did it fully elucidate the importance of the discovery, actually made years ago, that the human body is capable of abolishing cancer once its immune system is properly activated.

Gc-MAF is a naturally made molecule and is not patentable, though its manufacturing process is patent protected. There is no evidence of any current effort to commercialize this therapy or put it into practice. Should such an effective treatment for cancer come into common practice, the income stream from health insurance plans for every oncology office and cancer center in the world would likely be reduced to the point of financial insolvency and hundreds of thousands of jobs would be eliminated.

What happens when there are lots of extra doctors are available?  Prices fall!  Hello health care reform! You, the citizen wins, not to mention the lower costs of the drugs themselves.  I think we’ve got a large backlash brewing against government which is the FDA and like most government programs is dropping the ball and we need change.  There needs to be change everywhere, but we must begin demanding that change somewhere. What most more to you than your health?

The National Cancer Institute estimates cancer care in the U.S. costs ~$72 billion annually (2004). Furthermore, about $55 billion of cancer drugs are used annually, none which have not significantly improved survival rates throughout the history of their use. If a typical cancer patient had to undergo 30 Gc-MAF injections at a cost of $150 per injection, that would cost ~$4500, not counting doctor’s office visits and follow-up testing. For comparison, gene-targeted cancer drugs range from $13,000 to $100,000 in cost per year and produce only marginal improvements in survival (weeks to months).

Up to this point, the National Cancer Institute is totally silent on this discovery and there is no evidence the cancer care industry plans to quickly mobilize to use this otherwise harmless treatment.

It’s only too good to be true when there is a gatekeeper that got there by doing as they were told.  It’s time you demand your rights to open competition in the industry from alternatives that are affordable.  We have the window available.  Inflation in health care is notorious and we’re looking for solutions.  Is this not a solution?  Who knows for sure unless we can seriously test the clinical efficacy and be the judge?

Posted by: thefinancedude | May 29, 2008

Two Pennies – May 29 2008

War on America

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4dc6d834-2ce2-11dd-88c6-000077b07658.html

 

Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary, does not agree with suggestions that the phrase is equated with a war on Islam, says Russ Knocke, his spokesman.

So this is one of those, your wrong because I think I’m right moments.  Who cares if you agree or not, if those people are offended and you want to stop fighting with them wtf sense does it make to continue to incite anger with their only possible detractors? At this moment, 70% of us don’t like Bush.  However faced with the lesser of two evils when push comes to shove, we would rally behind Bush if we’re occupied.  It’s common sense, yet they’re stuck on saying (believing) they’re right, until they’re proven wrong.  Nice strategy.

“We are at war with terrorism, and its underlying ideology – not Islam – and we’ve gone out of our way to make that point,” says Mr Knocke. “In truth, war has been declared upon us.”

“While we want to be mindful to the way our messages are heard by Muslim audiences, we also think war on terror accurately describes the fight we are in,” he added.

I remember the Redcoats being terrorized by Revolutionaries during the “War of Insurrection” when we did not line up like idiots and shoot at each other.  We used our brains and reasoned we must use tactics to suit our weakness’ to eliminate the foreign invaders.  Gee, what do the “terrorists” do – the same thing.  But we were right then, and they’re wrong now.  Do as we say, not as we do. History doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme…(Twain).

“The chairman is aware of the concerns voiced by many in the Muslim community about the phrase ‘war on terror’,” Captain Kirby said.

So there is more than one person to back this story up.  The Muslim world understands the connotation of the phrase rather than the denotative mind warp this administration wants us to believe. It’s flat out inflammatory and serves one purpose, to continue to add to the ranks of those against us and further the war serving American corporate interests.  Those are the only ones benefitting from this all.  The children of America are being slaughtered; the citizens who support the troops are being fleeced not only through the debt and interest but the wicked inflation that is gathering steam while the defense and infrastructure companies report record profits.

 

I suppose on one hand, maybe we should be happy.  America is on sale as the dollar gets trashed.  American companies are being purchased more frequently by foreign investors.  We’re not the ones buying a bunch of foreign companies, so what’s really going on here?  There is a large problem with the present course of action. Ultimately the world wants to reach our standard of living.  The thing is, our standard of living is so much better relative to most underdeveloped countries and consequently we’ll be giving up our standards and trading down while our bankers are seeking better alternative standards. Consider China’s communication infrastructure being near completely wireless.  Costs are lower, build out is quicker.  They’re catching up exponentially and when the frog looks out the day before the lake is covered, he sees half the lake.  The next morning he has no open water as the Lilli pads have grown exponentially.

 

You want to end this?  Follow Ron Paul’s sage words and remove the bases from foreign lands.  The basis for the struggle is a misguided animosity stemming from American hegemony distorting their way of life.  Yes corporate America will never leave, however the perceived aggression not only irritates a minority section of Islam, it is in violation of our constitution.  For those of us saying this is unrealistic, they do not understand the changes we have grown through.

 

Missile technology is quickly becoming the basis for military strategic operations.  We showed what we are capable of, near laser precision with a piece of metal moving several hundred miles an hour falling into your chimney.  Consider nuclear weapons.  One of two things must be true.  Either they work and are a nuclear deterrent, or they don’t work. If they do not deter anyone from using them against us, then we’ve wasted a few trillion tax dollars in the past sixty or so years. 

 

Or they work, and we’re waging wars against people and wasting money in the process.  The only wars we’ve fought since WWII have been limited engagements that have accomplished little.  Communism was destined to fail on its own.  The staple society in which it was constructed failed in the early nineties because their centrally planned economy was uncompetitive and was bankrupted when Saudi Oil flooded the market.

 

Even if we let Vietnam be overrun by Vietcong and never set foot, it would have failed as it has, and current day Vietnam is a small mirror to China. Both will produce a large middle class which won’t maintain status quo when it comes to individual freedoms.  It will take time, and most importantly a social movement to catapult the country even further forward.  The great firewall will not last.

 

So if we walk away and leave sovereign nations to conduct their business and we focus on ourselves instead of projection our insecurities, we might be able to move through beyond this and focus on real problems like citizens losing their freedom, transitioning away from fossil fuels and the general economic malaise that is descending upon us like icy hot.

 

 

Middle of Getting Nowhere

http://money.cnn.com/2008/05/28/news/economy/feelingpoor/index.htm?eref=rss_topstories

 

That’s exactly how Chris Ackerman feels. He said that he and his wife, who live just outside Seattle, find that their paychecks no longer cover their rent, student loans and daily living expenses. That is forcing the young couple to turn to their credit cards to make ends meet.

They’ve already cut out much of their entertainment and trips to visit her family and friends 30 miles away. If gas and grocery prices continue to rise, Ackerman, who works for an importer, said he’ll have to stop contributing to his 401(k) plan. He doesn’t see many other options.

Stories like this make me think of the classes we are led to believe don’t exist. I think the upper crust has been binging for the two terms of Bush following his lead in spending our money. Not until more people feel this and come to recognize they are getting nothing from the government in spite of the payments and patriotism in kind.  Corporate profits are private while the losses are being borne to the society.  When companies are not accountable for their losses, where is Capitalism?

 

Yet when we make an ultimate blunder but we can’t get bankruptcy to push the restart button. We get stuck with the tab on a five year plan.  Funny how people have to get on a five year plan, yet our own government and corporations have no five year plan. The government doesn’t even use the same accounting methodology they require public companies to use.  If we actually added all the commitments we’ve been promised the national debt is much closer to $40T, than the $10T we’re led to believe.

 

 

Mortgage Merry Go Round

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121200132477426865.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

 

The rocket scientists are the wizards of Wall Street who invented securities that supposedly dispersed risk widely but actually created much more leverage than proved wise.

In a modern capitalist system, regulators provide guardrails to keep markets from driving the economy off a cliff. The regulators failed. Whether regulators should or could have restrained innovation on Wall Street or prohibited business deals between consenting, sophisticated adults is a tough question.

This is the problem.  Let’s move already to the post modern version where we have instituted the lessons learned from the failures of what we though were successes.  More government hands are not the answer, less is. Government is run by powerful, elite people who share boardrooms with each other when not in government. When government gets involved in the economy it does so at the expense of a free market. Resources allocated on the basis of true demand provides more benefits to more people, than one government deciding to choose a winner and a loser. I trust the 300 million of us to make a better decision than a few people insulated from their mistakes.

If all these people don’t financially hang for their mistakes there is no disincentive to refrain from repeating this decade after decade. No one should say they can or can’t create a product.  However if their proven to have been selling toxic waste, they should suffer the consequences of those actions.  Unfortunately we’ve climaxed to a point where if one comes down, they all do. Let these entities fail and reorganize the quality pieces as they’re own. 

 

This may result in marginal higher costs to the industry, passed on to us, but it’s the price we must pay for insurance against a total failure. It will cost more today to clean this mess up than it would have spread out over 300 million people over the last twenty years in the form of slightly higher costs to obtain credit.  Yes, we wouldn’t have been able to buy as many big screens as we wanted.  Aw shucks.

 

But investors who relied on the rating agencies — particularly supposedly sophisticated pension funds and other institutions — are at fault, too. Rating firms became a crutch for investors who simply didn’t want to spend the time and money required to be prudent investors at a time when low interest rates had everyone reaching for higher returns without contemplating the higher risks.

 

Pension funds and those people who are depending on others to set them up are going to be shocked when they want to take money out.  The wealth the baby boomers have tied up alone is staggering and they must transfer these illiquid assets into liquid cash as they need it.  When they begin to see others selling, someone must buy.  What happens when they begin to feel the itch that the longer they stay, the more they have to lose?

 

We know SS is reaching a state of disequilibrium in the fact that more people will be living on it than putting into it.  So those who are paying either pay more or those who receive get less.  Someone is going to be unhappy, is it all of the above or one over the other?  I suppose it depends on the average age of Congress and the President during the next term.  The higher the average, the more likely the lowly Gen X and Millennials get shafted.

 

 

Derivative H-Bomb

http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto052820081907312104

 

Efforts to tackle the risk surrounding privately negotiated credit derivatives will take a step forward on Thursday when 11 of the world’s biggest investment banks announce the creation of the first central clearer for the opaque contracts by September.

 

Idea popped into my head.  What if this clearing house creates true price discovery for these derivatives and counter party risks quickly become clear.  If so, then will we have a rush to the exits and see whose left holding the bag?  Are we setting ourselves up for a crash in September?  There are those who do believe Sept/Oct is the best time frame seasonality wise to provide an opening for a crash. 

 

This clearing house is supposed to cast the light of day on a dark offbeat corner of the market.  Those inside the street agree that the derivative pyramid is akin to gambling.  Hedge funds have been selling insurance against losses for years as a way to provide a steady return on assets. Those products are exploding now that everyone is running to hide in a corner.  Oh well sorry, we’ve finally installed a light bulb and if we can find the switch to turn it on…

Posted by: thefinancedude | May 28, 2008

May 28 2008 – Two Pennies Part Deux

SAVING HOUSING

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/20/business/20housing.html?ref=business

The Senate agreed on a bill to help home owners.  Bush is declaring he’ll review and probably sign into law.  Great news, right? Let’s break down some numbers.

The Senate bill would create an affordable housing fund, financed by the government-sponsored mortgage-finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and that fund would be used in its first year to provide about $500 million for the foreclosure rescue effort.

 “The primary goal here is to keep people in their homes, but also to establish a floor, a bottom to all this,” Mr. Dodd said. The foreclosure aid is tied to legislation creating a new regulatory agency to tighten oversight of the government-sponsored mortgage financiers.

I’m going to overlook the ridiculous idea that more government watch dogs will watch the government sponsored housing crooks more closely.  Who’s going to watch the watch dog then?

They are committing $500M in the first year, and it’s just about half over.  Pandering?  Probably.  But let’s assume not.  So this $500M will be divided into as many homes as possible if we’re trying to help as many people as possible. 

 $500M could help 5000 people with an average of $100K per home. The national median as of April was $220K per http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2007/ehs_apr07_lending_standards_affect. On the average we’re looking at helping maybe 2300 rounding up. The total foreclosures for 2008 are forecasted to be around a million.  Based on these numbers we’re going to help about .23% of the homeowners.  I read that 2% of us are ultimately being affected by this based on the raw numbers, so why are we in such a big fuss over this corner of the market?  Oh follow the money….almost forgot.

 The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that under the House bill, up to 500,000 mortgages would be refinanced over the next five years, at a cost to taxpayers of about $2.7 billion.

$2.7B/500,000 = $5400 per home owner.  We are paying each homeowner $5400 because they and their lender can’t figure out who got screwed more. Who loses – we do.

That $500 million would be taken from a new affordable housing fund, which would collect slightly less than half a cent on every dollar of mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

That fund, proposed by Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, would continue to exist after the foreclosure assistance plan ended, with the money directed to creating affordable housing, including low-income rental housing.

Then they want to give that money to the black hole known as Fannie Mae.  Aren’t those the ones who lost how many BILLIONS already?  Oh and the best part of government, it wont be going away once the crisis has ended.  On one hand it takes some nerve to tell us flatly it will not be going away on the other it’s like an open dare to call their bluff. Can we?

 

AUTO TERMINAL DECLINE

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121124778122705883.html?mod=hps_us_whats_news

Through most of the 1990s, auto makers sold a little over 15 million cars and light trucks a year in the U.S. market. That changed in the late 1990s: With gasoline prices low and many U.S. consumers feeling flush from the tech-stock boom, auto sales surged. Sales peaked at 17.4 million in 2000 and remained near 17 million for another five years. Heads of General Motors Corp. and Toyota said the U.S. was entering a golden age of the automobile. In 2003, Toyota‘s head of North American sales predicted the industry would soon be selling 20 million vehicles a year.

They were wrong. Sales started falling in 2006 and this year are expected to be right back where they were in the 1990s, at just over 15 million. Last week, market researcher Global Insight Inc. lowered its 2008 forecast for U.S. vehicle sales to below 15 million. Global Insight now believes sales won’t reach previous highs again until 2012, a year later than it had previously thought.

Volume is a more important barometer than sales can ever be.  Any measurement of money carries an intrinsic problem we all feel today, namely inflation. People want to buy as much as they can leverage.  Middle class tries to emulate the upper by squeezing into car payments they can barely afford not to mention those who did the same in respect to the GREAT deals on SUVs.  More like another sucker debt trap depending on how much its utilized.

 For the foreseeable future the majority of us will be trading down.  The entire expansion from the fifties has surpassed the golden age we still believe we’re in.  These days we’re spending more money to stay in the same place.  Roads and highways are in disrepair and maintenance is shirked in favor of government slight of hand pointing to the new stuff they just built for us.

 Its over. While Europe the wise elder decided to build out mass infrastructure for all, we resisted once we could ignore the obvious.  There will be an end to the finite resource known as crude oil.  When it happens was irrelevant.  The time to act has past.  We will react violently when the Cheney defined American way of life become fully negotiable.

 If you sit down and do the math, you might be spending 25% of your paycheck to secure your paycheck.  What if you took a job you loved that paid 25% less, but was 1/10 the distance?

TRUCKER TERMINAL DECLINE

The trucking firm Jevic Transportation Inc., of Delanco, announced today that it was ceasing operations after 27 years, a victim of high diesel and insurance costs as well as the tightened economy.

“When you are a carrier, you see the recession coming before anyone else,” he said. “Customers are shipping less.”

“For many motor carriers, fuel is now equal to labor as the highest expense,” she said. “The trucking industry spent $112 billion on fuel in 2007, and we’re on pace to spend $141.5 billion in 2008.”

Besides new business systems, Jevic added other distinctive innovations: Its drivers carried business cards, just like senior managers. It was known for good pay and benefits, and thus had little difficulty filling the ranks of its drivers.

 Moreover, it made a point of bending over backward to get new customers, and to keep them in the fold.

Corollary to the above point.  Mass transportation is the current marginal form of transportation.  People will be switching to it as they get squeezed out of their autos.  Business is similar in that they must ship goods, rather than their labor.  They too are making marginal changes to their business model to cope with rising costs.  At some point, the marginal truckers will be eliminated in favor of moving back in time, namely freight rail transportation.  Wonder why Buffet bought so much RR stock?

Trucks are being forced into transporting local, last mile delivery.  Meaning the majority of domestic goods transport will be done via rails with the last mile delivery being carried out by an eighteen wheeler.  JIT inventory will be made mostly obsolete and business schools will search for ways to make it work until they realize it was all predicated on cheap energy and really little else.

 

 

 

 

 

Truckers are less efficient in terms of energy use and wear and tear on the roadbed.  Reducing the time they are on the road should help reduce maintenance costs of the roads in addition to alleviating some carbon output, albeit marginal most likely.  All the marginal truck & air freight is pretty much been eliminated over as we ascended to $3/gal.  The next leg up will produce more losers and fewer winners but we can’t stop the market.  It would be too easy to say this train has left the station, but it did and those positioning themselves will be rewarded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: thefinancedude | May 28, 2008

Two Pennies May 28, 2008

Legal Plunder

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D90U74D01&show_article=1

 

WASHINGTON (AP) – Pentagon auditors say billions of dollars in military spending is going unchecked because they are having trouble keeping pace with the ever-expanding defense budget and combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

In a recent report, the Defense Department inspector general estimates that nearly half of the military’s $316 billion weapons budget went unchecked last year because the IG’s office lacked the manpower. Whereas 10 years ago when a single auditor would have reviewed some $642 million in defense contracts, individual investigators are now charged with auditing more than $2 billion in spending.

 

The IG also has been stretching its staff to investigate corruption and fraud cases overseas, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan where the military is hiring contractors to help run operations.

 

Growing up I can remember in the nineties when I started hearing about $200 toilet seats and hammers.  It was a big joke.  It’s even bigger now.  Are any of us laughing? I suppose the real point here is an expansion of government power to tax (how must they ultimately pay for this) without the corresponding increase in oversight.  It’s usually money first, deal with the problems when someone asks.  Who deals with the problems?

 

Apparently no one; regardless of which side of isle they come from, the budget goes up.  Every year the government grows more than the free market diverting valuable resources to waste.  This is corporatocracy at its finest.  People don’t have a unified lobby that can articulate anything of value. So corporate elite saddle up to government officials and discuss how they can be mutually beneficial.  This is econ 101 folks.  The incentives to loot are built into democracy.  It’s made worse by the wealth we’ve been deluded into believing we owned.  Turned out we are owned by the banks and we can’t get out of because the banks asked CONgress to limit “frivolous” bankruptcies.  The checks on this entire system rest with the people.  In order for people to “check” government, they must have time to do so. 

 

We can insert some Economic marginal utility theory into this, but basically we’re distracted with what we believe to be higher value needs.  For each of us it is different, but generally we’re working out, driving (wasting a whole lot of free thinking time), running kids around, watching tv, working to keep up with Joneses or surfing the internet. We’re running to stay in place and starting to collectively realize we’ve been duped. We leave the big stuff to the people who tell us it’s messy.  It’s not messy folks it’s real easy to understand most issues when you come to realize who benefits and who pays.  You rarely benefit directly from any one program.  However you’re paying for them all. 

 

Most of CONgress doesn’t write or read a bill that makes it to vote.  Who writes these laws anyway, oh yeah lobbyists coordinating with their employers – corporations.  I like corporations but when they are allowed to insulate themselves at our expense we’re screwed. Each company does what it must without regard to the whole.  They each seek their self interest in no different manner than a person would.  The practical difference lies in the fact that companies write our laws and our trained legal experts (most of them are lawyers anyway) don’t even read the 500 pages.  WTF?

 

Granted I don’t want to read that much either, but they wanted the position.  It seems as though they just want all the perks and none of the work that goes along with it.  Is it really shocking that we’re getting fleeced for everything in this war?  Every single number that comes from government should be ripped apart and verified.  None of it adds up and it’s so bad now we’ve got them trying to make us believe gas costs decrease in April 08 from a year ago! We must wake up…

 

All my devotion betrayed
I am no longer afraid
I was too blinded to see
How much you’ve stolen from me

 

~Disturbed, “Deify”, 10,000 Fists

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/28/business/28housing.html?ref=business

 

The inventory is not spread out evenly across the country. Manhattan and choice neighborhoods in San Francisco and downtown Boston, for example, do not appear to be suffering from the kind of glut that is hurting suburban Phoenix, southern Florida and inland areas of California.

 

“We are still getting multiple offers on properties there,” Phil Rodocker, a Seattle-based real estate agent, said about the downtown area and Bellevue. But “as you move south, every 10 miles south you go, you see more and more short sales and repossessed houses.”

 

The support mechanism for urban sprawl is more clearly becoming defined as cheap energy that bridged the transportation gap to your income source. Well, the rest of the world wants to copy us.  Oil supplies are clearly peakish at minimum. The entire paradigm created post WWII has reached zenith and will be replaced by more dense urban landscapes more integrated with the surroundings. 

 

Those who are relocating or buying properties nearer to urban centers will be the contrarian millionaires yet to come.  Most cities are totally unprepared for the reality of more scare, higher priced oil. It’s just going to be there we’re all thinking. Well no it’s not.

 

If you want to be ahead of the curve begin researching areas where light rail will be.  The goal is to get people within a few miles of a station and the closer you are, the higher priced that property will be.  There are urban centers in my city in complete shambles and plenty of developers are sitting on the properties in anticipation of something happening.  Trolley cars will be back. The only reason they left is because they got in the way of cars, a business more profitable for auto manufactures so of course they wanted to eliminate their competition and they did so through lobbying.  Nice. Now we get to pay for them again.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/27/AR2008052703330_pf.html

 

Congress recently considered a proposal by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) to let bankruptcy judges cut interest rates and principal on troubled mortgages. But that plan was scuttled last month. Instead, consumers must operate under the law passed in 2005, which was intended to get people like the Smiths to choose other alternatives. In response to critics, such as credit card issuers who complained that people sought bankruptcy too frivolously, Congress enacted tighter income limits, tougher standards for measuring a debtor’s ability to pay and mandatory credit counseling.

 

A government official really thought he could rewrite contract laws to help out 2% of the total population, let alone his own constituents?  Eh, it’s not his money so what does he care? Funny how a credit card company tries to make people choose “other alternatives” yet we don’t seem to ever have “other alternatives” when it’s not consumer related. 

 

As long as you buy something, we’ll give you all the choice you want.  As long as we’re stealing you’re money from you though, you can’t tell us what to do with it or even how much we can have.  We’ll just ask some other government to loan us the money and you just deal with it, K? So far, yeah that seems to be just fine by us. We’re dumb enough to believe hype and fail to think for ourselves which leads into social pandering for all types of causes.  How about we buck up and starting taking ownership of what happens to us, rather than trying to blame anybody who can’t defend themselves.

 

When marketing began utilizing psychology we lost our ability to think for ourselves. It’s easier to believe what sounds reasonable without critical analysis.  We’re programmed this way and marketing teaches it in B School.  As long as we convince ourselves we were doing as well as the marginal neighbor, we feel better. That feeling is now eating away at us as we figure out where the eject button is.  Good luck finding yours.  I pushed mine nearly three years ago and haven’t looked back. 

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