The Financial Markets Freak Out When The Fed Hints That It May Slow Down The Injections

Panic Button By John On FlickrU.S. financial markets are exhibiting the classic behavior patterns of an addict.  Just a hint that the Fed may start slowing down the flow of the “juice” was all that it took to cause the financial markets to throw an epic temper tantrum on Wednesday.  In fact, one CNN article stated that the markets “freaked out” when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the Fed would eventually start tapering the bond buying program if the economy improves.  And please note that Bernanke did not announce that the money printing would actually slow down any time soon.  He just said that it may be “appropriate to moderate the pace of purchases later this year” if the economy is looking good.  For now, the Fed is going to continue wildly printing money and injecting it into the financial markets.  So nothing has actually changed yet.  But just the suggestion that this round of quantitative easing would eventually end if the economy improves was enough to severely rattle Wall Street on Wednesday.  U.S. financial markets have become completely and totally addicted to easy money, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen when the Fed takes the “smack” away.  When that day comes, will the largest bond bubble in the history of the world burst?  Will interest rates rise dramatically?  Will it throw the U.S. economy into another deep recession?

Judging by what happened on Wednesday, the end of Fed bond buying is not going to go well.  Just check out the carnage that we witnessed…

-The Dow dropped by 206 points on Wednesday.

-The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries shot up substantially, and it is now the highest that it has been since March 2012.

-On Wednesday we witnessed the largest percentage rise in the yield on 5 year U.S. Treasury bonds ever.  It is now the highest that it has been in nearly two years.

-It was announced that mortgage rates are the highest that they have been in more than a year.

-We also learned that the MBS mortgage refinance applications index has fallen by 38 percent over the past six weeks.

If the markets react like this when the Fed doesn’t even do anything, what are they going to do when the Fed actually starts cutting back the monetary injections?

Posted below is an excerpt from the statement that the Fed released on Wednesday.  Please note that the Fed is saying that the current quantitative easing program is going to continue at the same pace for right now…

To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee decided to continue purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month and longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month. The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. Taken together, these actions should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative.

The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months. The Committee will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate, until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially in a context of price stability. The Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes. In determining the size, pace, and composition of its asset purchases, the Committee will continue to take appropriate account of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases as well as the extent of progress toward its economic objectives.

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens. In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored. In determining how long to maintain a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy, the Committee will also consider other information, including additional measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments. When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.

So why doesn’t the Federal Reserve just stop these emergency measures right now?

After all, we are supposed to be in the midst of an “economic recovery”, right?

What is Bernanke afraid of?

That is a question that Rick Santelli of CNBC asked on Wednesday.  If you have not seen his epic rant yet, you should definitely check it out…

On days like this, it is easy to see who has the most influence over the U.S. economy.  The financial world literally hangs on every word that comes out of the mouth of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.  The same cannot be said about Barack Obama or anyone else.

The central planners over at the Federal Reserve are at the very heart of what is wrong with our economy and our financial system.  If you doubt this, please see this article: “11 Reasons Why The Federal Reserve Should Be Abolished“.  Bernanke knows that the actions that the Fed has taken in recent years have grossly distorted our financial system, and he is concerned about what is going to happen when the Fed starts removing those emergency measures.

Unfortunately, we can’t send the U.S. financial system off to rehab at a clinic somewhere.  The entire world is going to watch as our financial markets go through withdrawal.

The Fed has purposely inflated a massive financial bubble, and now it is trying to figure out what to do about it.  Can the Fed fix this mess without it totally blowing up?

Unfortunately, most severe addictions never end well.  In a recent article, Charles Hugh Smith described the predicament that the Fed is currently facing quite eloquently…

One of the enduring analogies of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) program is that the stock market is now addicted to this constant injection of free money. The aptness of this analogy has never been more apparent than now, as the market plummets on the mere rumor that the Fed will cut back its monthly injection of financial smack. (The analogy typically refers to crack cocaine, due to the state of delusional euphoria QE induces in the stock market. But the zombified state of the heroin addict is arguably the more accurate analogy of the U.S. stock market.)

You know the key self-delusion of all addiction: “I can stop any time I want.” This eerily echoes the language of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who routinely declares he can stop QE any time he chooses.

But Ben, the pusher of QE money, knows his addict–the stock market–will die if the smack is cut back too abruptly. Like all pushers, Ben has his own delusion: that he can actually control the addiction he has nurtured.

You’re dreaming, Ben–your pushing QE has backed you into a corner. The addict (the stock market) is now so dependent and fragile that the slightest decrease in QE smack will send it to the emergency room, and quite possibly the morgue.

We are rapidly approaching a turning point.  We have a massively inflated stock market bubble, a massively inflated bond bubble, and a financial system that is absolutely addicted to easy money.

The Fed is desperately hoping that it can find a way to engineer some sort of a soft landing.

The Fed is desperately hoping to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis of 2008.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke insists that he knows how to handle things this time.

Do you believe him?

32 Facts That Show How Men Are Being Systematically Emasculated In America Today

32 Facts That Show How Men Are Being Systematically Emasculated In America TodayWhat is wrong with men in America?  Why isn’t our country producing lots of strong, independent, hard working men of character like it once did?  Well, many believe that it starts at a very young age.  When compared with girls, boys in the United States get lower grades, they are much more likely to get into trouble at school and they are much more likely to be put on behavior-modifying drugs.  When it comes time to pursue a higher education, most of our young men are ill-prepared to do that.  Today, nearly 60 percent of the students enrolled at U.S. colleges are women.  And of course it has become much more difficult for men to find good jobs.  In fact, less than 65 percent of all men have a job right now.  Without a good job, a man is not considered to be “marriage material”, but a large percentage of our young men don’t want to get married anyway.  Society has told them that it is okay to be a “slacker”.  Today, far too many of our young men are far more interested in their various addictions (beer, drugs, sex, video games, gambling, etc.) than they are in starting a family.  But the truth is that men are far more happy when they have a purpose.  When men are raising families, starting businesses or doing something to transform society they feel fulfilled.

Sadly, the message that our young men are getting from our television shows and our movies is that men are idiots.  Instead of being portrayed as leaders that are eager to get married and raise strong families, young men are often being portrayed as passive slackers that love to party and chase women.

Start paying attention to how men are portrayed in the media.  In particular, pay attention to how they are portrayed in our commercials.  Our boys and young men are exposed to thousands upon thousands of hours of this “programming”, and it has a dramatic affect on them.

Our system beats up our boys and young men so badly that only a relatively small percentage of them emerge into adulthood as strong, independent young men that are able to take care of themselves and start families of their own.

In America today, the percentage of men in prison is at an all-time high, the percentage of men with a job is near an all-time low and the percentage of children living without a father is at an all-time high.

Do we have a crisis on our hands?

Yes, we most definitely have a crisis on our hands.

The following are 32 facts that show how men are being systematically emasculated in America today…

#1 The labor participation rate for men has been steadily declining over the years…

In the 1950s, nearly every man in his prime working years was in the labor force, a category that includes both those who are employed and those actively applying for jobs. The “participation rate” for men ages 25 to 54 stood at 97.7% in early 1956, but drifted downward to a post-war record low of 88.4% at the end of 2012.  (It ticked up very slightly at the start of this year to 88.6%.)

So where have all the men workers gone?

Some went into prison. Others are on disability. And still others can’t find jobs and have simply given up looking.

#2 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.  The chart posted below illustrates this stunning decline…

Men - Employment-Population Ratio

#3 During the last recession, men lost twice as many jobs as women did.

#4 According to Time Magazine, unemployed men are significantly more likely to get divorced than employed men are.

#5 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the “real entry-level hourly wage for men who recently graduated from high school” has declined from $15.64 in 1979 to $11.68 today.

#6 Between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#7 Thanks to government policies which are killing off small businesses in America, the percentage of self-employed Americans is at an all-time low today.  This has had a disproportionate impact on men.

#8 In 1982, 1.9 percent of all men were receiving disability benefits.  Today, 3.1 percent of all men are receiving disability benefits.

#9 According to one very surprising study, “young, urban, childless women” make more money in America today than young, urban, childless men do.

#10 More than half of all middle management jobs in America are now held by women.

#11 More than half of all health care jobs in America are now held by women.

#12 The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the entire globe by a very wide margin.  Overall, the U.S. has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has 5 percent of the total global population.  Men make up the vast majority of those that we are holding in our prisons.

#13 Incarceration rates for men in America have been steadily increasing over time.  The following is from a recent CNN article

Looking at those born just after World War II, some 1.2% of white men and 9% of black men had been to prison by 2004, according to Bruce Western, a Harvard sociology professor. But looking at those born 30 years later, some 3.3% of white men and 20.7% of black men had been to prison.

#14 According to the Pew Research Center, only 51 percent of all American adults are currently married.  Back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in the United States were married.

#15 Males account for approximately 70 percent of all Ds and Fs in U.S. public schools.

#16 About two-thirds of all students in “special education programs” are boys.

#17 The average American girl spends 5 hours a week playing video games.  The average American boy spends 13 hours a week playing video games.

#18 The average young American will spend 10,000 hours playing video games before the age of 21.

#19 One study discovered that 88 percent of all Americans between the ages of 8 and 18 play video games, and that video game addiction is approximately four times as common among boys as it is among girls.

#20 In 2011, SAT scores for young men were the worst that they had been in 40 years.

#21 According to the New York Times, approximately 57 percent of all young people enrolled at U.S. colleges are women.  That means that only 43 percent are men.

#22 It is being projected that women will earn 60 percent of all Bachelor’s degrees from U.S. universities by the year 2016.

#23 Once in college, women are much more likely to complete their education and get a degree…

Women born in 1975 were roughly 17% more likely than their male counterparts to attend college and nearly 23% more likely to complete a four-year degree, according to data in Wayward Sons.

#24 Young men are nearly twice as likely to live with their parents as young women the same age are.

#25 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple.  Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.

#26 The marriage rate in the United States has fallen to an all-time low.  Right now it is sitting at a yearly rate of 6.8 marriages per 1000 people.

#27 Today, an all-time low 44.2 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 are married.

#28 The U.S. family is rapidly breaking down.  100 years ago, 4.52 were living in the average U.S. household, but now the average U.S. household only consists of 2.59 people.

#29 At this point, approximately one out of every three children in America lives in a home without a father.

#30 The United States produces more pornography than any other nation in the world.  Men consume far more of that pornography than women do.

#31 An astounding 30 percent of all Internet traffic now goes to pornography websites, and one survey found that 25 percent of all employees that have Internet access visit sex websites while they are at work.

#32 In the United States today, political correctness reigns, and any reference to the male gender is being stamped out of our language.  For example, all over the country the term “manhole” is being replaced with the terms “utility hole” or “maintenance hole”.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that men are being systematically emasculated in America today?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

Farewell Bernanke – Thanks For Inflating The Biggest Bond Bubble The World Has Ever Seen

Barack Obama And Ben BernankeFederal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is on the way out the door, but the consequences of the bond bubble that he has helped to create will stay with us for a very, very long time.  During Bernanke’s tenure, interest rates on U.S. Treasuries have fallen to record lows.  This has enabled the U.S. government to pile up an extraordinary amount of debt.  During his tenure we have also seen mortgage rates fall to record lows.  All of this has helped to spur economic activity in the short-term, but what happens when interest rates start going back to normal?  If the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent, the U.S. government will suddenly be paying out a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.  And remember, there have been times in the past when the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt has been much higher than that.  In addition, when the U.S. government starts having to pay more to borrow money so will everyone else.  What will that do to home sales and car sales?  And of course we all remember what happened to adjustable rate mortgages when interest rates started to rise just prior to the last recession.  We have gotten ourselves into a position where the U.S. economy simply cannot afford for interest rates to go up.  We have become addicted to the cheap money made available by a grossly distorted financial system, and we have Ben Bernanke to thank for that.  The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of the economic problems that we are facing in America, and this time is certainly no exception.

This week Barack Obama publicly praised Ben Bernanke and stated that Bernanke has “already stayed a lot longer than he wanted” as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  Bernanke’s term ends on January 31st, but many observers believe that he could leave even sooner than that.  Bernanke appears to be tired of the job and eager to move on.

So who would replace him?  Well, the mainstream media is making it sound like the appointment of Janet Yellen is already a forgone conclusion.  She would be the first woman ever to chair the Federal Reserve, and her philosophy is that a little bit of inflation is good for an economy.  It seems likely that she would continue to take us down the path that Bernanke has taken us.

But is it a fundamentally sound path?  Keeping interest rates pressed to the floor and wildly printing money may be producing some positive results in the short-term, but the crazy bubble that this is creating will burst at some point.  In fact, the director of financial stability for the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, recently admitted that the central bankers have “intentionally blown the biggest government bond bubble in history” and he warned about what might happen once it ends…

“If I were to single out what for me would be biggest risk to global financial stability right now it would be a disorderly reversion in the yields of government bonds globally.” he said. There had been “shades of that” in recent weeks as government bond yields have edged higher amid talk that central banks, particularly the US Federal Reserve, will start to reduce its stimulus.

“Let’s be clear. We’ve intentionally blown the biggest government bond bubble in history,” Haldane said. “We need to be vigilant to the consequences of that bubble deflating more quickly than [we] might otherwise have wanted.”

Posted below is a chart that demonstrates how interest rates on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds have fallen over the last several decades.  This has helped to fuel the false prosperity that we have been enjoying, but there is no way that the U.S. government should have been able to borrow money so cheaply.  This bubble that we are living in now is setting the stage for a very, very painful adjustment…

Interest Rate On 10 Year U.S. Treasuries

So what will that “adjustment” look like?

The following analysis is from a recent article by Wolf Richter

Ten-year Treasury notes have been kicked down from their historic pedestal last July when some poor souls, blinded by the Fed’s halo of omnipotence and benevolence, bought them at a minuscule yield of 1.3%. For them, it’s been an ice-cold shower ever since. As Treasuries dropped, yields meandered upward in fits and starts. After a five-week jump from 1.88% in early May, they hit 2.29% on Tuesday last week – they’ve retreated to 2.19% since then. Now investors are wondering out loud what would happen if ten-year Treasury yields were to return to more normal levels of 4% or even 5%, dragging other long-term interest rates with them. They know what would happen: carnage!

And according to Richter, there are already signs that the bond bubble is beginning to burst…

Wholesale dumping of Treasuries by exasperated foreigners has already commenced. Private foreigners dumped $30.8 billion in Treasuries in April, an all-time record. Official holders got rid of $23.7 billion in long-term Treasury debt, the highest since November 2008, and $30.1 billion in short-term debt. Sell, sell, sell!

Bond fund redemptions spoke of fear and loathing: in the week ended June 12, investors yanked $14.5 billion out of Treasury bond funds, the second highest ever, beating the prior second-highest-ever outflow of $12.5 billion of the week before. They were inferior only to the October 2008 massacre as chaos descended upon financial markets. $27 billion in two weeks!

In lockstep, average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates jumped from 3.59% in early May to 4.15% last week. The mortgage refinancing bubble, by which banks have creamed off billions in fees, is imploding – the index has plunged 36% since early May.

If interest rates start to climb significantly, that will have a dramatic affect on economic activity in the United States.

And we have seen this pattern before.

As Robert Wenzel noted in a recent article on the Economic Policy Journal, we saw interest rates rise suddenly just prior to the October 1987 stock market crash, and we also saw them rise substantially prior to the financial crisis of 2008…

As Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker left the Fed chairmanship in August 1987, the interest rate on the 10 year note climbed from 8.2% to 9.2% between June 1987 and September 1987. This was followed, of course by the October 1987 stock market crash.

As Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan left the Fed chairmanship at the end of January 2006, the interest rate on the 10 year note climbed from 4.35% to 4.65%. It then climbed above 5%.

So keep a close eye on interest rates in the months ahead.  If they start to rise significantly, that will be a red flag.

And it makes perfect sense why Bernanke is looking to hand over the reins of the Fed at this point.  He can probably sense the carnage that is coming and he wants to get out of Dodge while he still can.

10 Disturbing Tales From The Side Streets And Dark Alleys Of America

Dark Alley - Photo by Joe MabelEvery night Americans prove that they are willing to do absolutely horrible things to their fellow human beings.  Most of the time, we never even hear about the sick and twisted things that happen on the side streets and dark alleys of America.  Once in a while a particularly twisted story will get picked up by the news, but usually most Americans are pretty much able to isolate themselves from the depravity that is happening all around them.  Unfortunately, the social decay that is eating away at our society like cancer is spreading.  It is getting harder and harder for average Americans to keep the darkness at bay.  When it suddenly reaches out and touches your family, it can be absolutely shocking.  America is not the kind, loving and gentle place that is portrayed in our movies and on our television shows.  The sad truth is that America is becoming colder and meaner with each passing day.  Yes, there are definitely some Americans that are kind and compassionate, but they are in the minority.  As our economic decline becomes even more severe, the hearts of even more Americans are going to grow cold.  And people with cold hearts can do some absolutely terrible things.  The following are 10 disturbing tales from the side streets and dark alleys of America…

#1 Beaten, Robbed And Left Naked In A Cow Pasture In Florida

A Florida man says that a first dated ended with him being beaten, forced to strip at gun point, robbed and then left in a cow pasture.

A Flagler County Sheriff’s Office case report obtained by NBC News indicated that 34-year-old Shaun Paul Williams was found naked and bloodied on State Road 100 in Bunnell. Williams told deputies that he had met a woman named “Tree” about two weeks ago in Dayton and agreed to go out on June 14.

When the woman picked him up on Friday, he discovered that two other men we also inside the vehicle. The woman explained that one of the men was her brother. She said that she needed to drop the men off at the brother’s home.

But instead of going to a home, the brother instructed the woman to stop at an “empty cow pasture.” Williams said that he exited the vehicle to urinate and was struck in the head with a “hard metal object.”

“Give me all your money and your clothes,” one of the men told him.

#2 Wendy’s Customer Totally Loses It When They Put Cheese On His Hamburger

In recent months there have been a lot of videos posted on YouTube of crazed people yelling wildly at employees of various fast food chains.  The most recent example of this phenomenon to go viral is a video of a middle-aged man totally losing it after he discovered that Wendy’s employees had put cheese on his hamburger.  You can watch the video here, but please be aware that it contains quite a bit of profanity and it is not appropriate for children to watch.  This is yet another example of how seemingly average people in America are becoming consumed with anger and frustration.

#3 Women Throwing Bleach Into The Eyes Of A Man On A City Bus In Boston

MBTA Police are searching for three young women who they say threw bleach in the eyes of a bus passenger after robbing him of his money.

The victim was returning home from work early Sunday morning, riding the #28 bus on Blue Hill Avenue through Roxbury, when it seems the trio sized him up.

Officials say one female slapped the man about the head, while one went to work to search him for money.

“One of the women puts her knee on top of his legs so he can’t get up and takes the money from his pockets,” MBTA Superintendent-in Chief Joseph O’Connor told WBZ-TV.

#4 The Wild Dogs Of St. Louis

Dangerous dogs are becoming more of a problem in parts of north St. Louis County.

It’s so bad, some people say they’re afraid to go out for a morning jog.

Resident Carolyn Immer says she was attacked and now has a hole in her leg.

“I felt like I was out in the middle of nowhere and there was nobody around to help,” Immer says. “I was screaming for a long time – it seemed like a long time lets put it that way.”

#5 Homeless In Dallas

So as of today I am officially homeless.

I won’t bore you all with long sob stories.

About a year ago lost my job of twelve years, couldn’t find new work, made some bad financial choices, and today I sit in the public library on my old laptop typing away as all my posessions lay in three small suitcases very close to where I am sitting.

I think this might possibly be the worst place to be homless, given the horrible heat.

So I have seventy-five cents to my name, am not sure where I’ll be putting my head down to sleep tonight, and was wondering if anyone else out there has been in a similar prediciment.

#6 Detroit – Dumping Ground For The Dead

From the street, the two decomposing bodies were nearly invisible, concealed in an overgrown lot alongside worn-out car tires and a mouldy sofa. The teenagers had been shot, stripped to their underwear and left on a deserted block.

They were just the latest victims of foul play whose remains went undiscovered for days after being hidden deep inside Detroit’s vast urban wilderness — a crumbling wasteland rarely visited by outsiders and infrequently patrolled by police.

Abandoned and neglected parts of the city are quickly becoming dumping grounds for the dead — at least a dozen bodies in the space of 12 months. And authorities acknowledge there is little they can do.

#7 Impaled On A Wrought Iron Fence In Chicago

A man was murdered Sunday night by someone who struck him in the head, causing him to become impaled on a wrought iron fence in the South Side Burnside neighborhood.

The 48-year-old victim was involved in a dispute with unknown individuals near his home in the 9100 block of South Greenwood Avenue about 8 p.m. Sunday when a male struck him in the head, police said.

The victim’s head was then impaled by a wrought iron fence near the eye, police said. He then fell to the ground and struck his head again.

#8 Robbery Victims Locked In The Trunks Of Their Own Vehicles In North Miami

CBS4 has learned of a horrible crime that has happened four times in the past two months in the city of North Miami. Gunmen have been forcing robbery victims in to the trunks of their cars while trying to get cash.

North Miami Police Major Neal Cuevas says he is worried about “copycat criminals” who may one day take a life.

One victim is speaking out exclusively to CBS4’s Peter D’Oench after being driven around in the trunk of his Mercedes Benz for two hours on Wednesday night. He was abducted at 8 p.m. while leaving his job and was finally rescued by police at 10 p.m. after discovering he had a cell phone in his trunk and after calling 911.

#9 Female Teacher Has Sex With Three Students In Oregon

A Sherwood High School teacher has been arrested and faces sexual abuse charges, stemming from accusations of sexual contact with at least three students.

A grand jury indicted Denise Keesee, 38, Monday on six counts of second-degree sexual abuse, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s office. Keesee turned herself in this evening, said Sgt. David Thompson, a sheriff’s office spokesman.

#10 A Police Officer That Shot Five Kittens While Children Were Watching

The Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wants Humane Officer Barry Accorti fired for allegedly shooting five kittens in a home’s back yard on Monday.

—–

Accorti responded to a home Monday afternoon where a feral mother cat and her five kittens were living in a woodpile.

He allegedly told the homeowner that shelters were full and that the cats would be going to kitty heaven. He then pulled out his gun and shot the five, 8- to 10-week-old kittens.

Accorti allegedly told the homeowner that he isn’t supposed to do this, but it was justifiable. The woman ran into the house to shield her children, who were screaming and crying.

So what do you think about these stories?

Do you have any tales like this to share?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Whenever Margin Debt Goes Over 2.25% Of GDP The Stock Market Always Crashes

Bubble - Photo by Jeff KubinaWhat do 1929, 2000 and 2007 all have in common?  Those were all years in which we saw a dramatic spike in margin debt.  In all three instances, investors became highly leveraged in order to “take advantage” of a soaring stock market.  But of course we all know what happened each time.  The spike in margin debt was rapidly followed by a horrifying stock market crash.  Well guess what?  It is happening again.  In April (the last month we have a number for), margin debt rose to an all-time high of more than 384 billion dollars.  The previous high was 381 billion dollars which occurred back in July 2007.  Margin debt is about 29 percent higher than it was a year ago, and the S&P 500 has risen by more than 20 percent since last fall.  The stock market just continues to rise even though the underlying economic fundamentals continue to get worse.  So should we be alarmed?  Is the stock market bubble going to burst at some point?  Well, if history is any indication we are in big trouble.  In the past, whenever margin debt has gone over 2.25% of GDP the stock market has crashed.  That certainly does not mean that the market is going to crash this week, but it is a major red flag.

The funny thing is that the fact that investors are so highly leveraged is being seen as a positive thing by many in the financial world.  Some believe that a high level of margin debt is a sign that “investor confidence” is high and that the rally will continue.  The following is from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal

The rising level of debt is seen as a measure of investor confidence, as investors are more willing to take out debt against investments when shares are rising and they have more value in their portfolios to borrow against. The latest rise has been fueled by low interest rates and a 15% year-to-date stock-market rally.

Others, however, consider the spike in margin debt to be a very ominous sign.  Margin debt has now risen to about 2.4 percent of GDP, and as the New York Times recently pointed out, whenever we have gotten this high before a market crash has always followed…

The first time in recent decades that total margin debt exceeded 2.25 percent of G.D.P. came at the end of 1999, amid the technology stock bubble. Margin debt fell after that bubble burst, but began to rise again during the housing boom — when anecdotal evidence said some investors were using their investments to secure loans that went for down payments on homes. That boom in margin loans also ended badly.

Posted below is a chart of the performance of the S&P 500 over the last several decades.  After looking at this chart, compare it to the margin debt charts that the New York Times recently published that you can find right here.  There is a very strong correlation between these charts.  You can find some more charts that directly compare the level of margin debt and the performance of the S&P 500 right here.  Every time margin debt has soared to a dramatic new high in the past, a stock market crash and a recession have always followed.  Will we escape a similar fate this time?

S&P 500

What makes all of this even more alarming is the fact that a number of things that we have not seen happen in the U.S. economy since 2009 are starting to happen again.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “12 Clear Signals That The U.S. Economy Is About To Really Slow Down“.

At some point the stock market will catch up with the economy.  When that happens, it will probably happen very rapidly and a lot of people will lose a lot of money.

And there are certainly a lot of prominent voices out there that are warning about what is coming.  For example, the following is what renowned investor Alan M. Newman had to say about the current state of the market earlier this year

“If anything has changed yet in 2013, we certainly do not see it. Despite the early post-fiscal cliff rally, this is the same beast we rode to the 2007 highs for the Dow Industrials. The U.S. stock market is over leveraged, overpriced and has been commandeered by mechanical forces to such an extent that all holding periods are now affected by more risk than at any time in history.”

Unfortunately, most Americans never get to hear such voices.  Instead, most Americans rely on the mainstream media to do much of their thinking for them.  And right now the mainstream media is insisting that we are not in a stock market bubble…

Forbes: “Why Stocks Are On Solid Footing And This Is No Bubble

ABC News: “AP Survey: Economists See No Stock Market Bubble

Businessweek: “Prognostications: It’s Not a Stock Bubble

Yahoo: “This Is NOT a Stock Bubble! Says Ben Stein

MarketWatch: “Is a stock bubble coming? No, say economists

So what do you think?

Do you believe that we are in a stock market bubble that is about to burst, or do you believe that everything is going to be just fine?

Please feel free to express your opinion by posting a comment below…

“This Is A Glock Block” – Frustrated Homeowners All Over America Are Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

Glock - Photo by SmarterlamAll over the United States, frustrated homeowners are banding together, arming themselves and patrolling their own streets.  One of the primary reasons this is happening is because police budgets all over the nation are being slashed at a time when violent crime rates in the United States are increasing and many our our largest cities are being transformed into crime-infested war zones.  So instead of waiting for government to come up with a solution, many Americans are taking matters into their own hands.  For example, one community group in Milwaukie, Oregon has started posting flyers with an ominous message for potential criminals: “This is a Glock block. We don’t call 911.”  You can see a photo of this flyer right here.  One of the founders of the “Glock Block” is a breast cancer survivor named Coy Tolonen.  She decided to arm herself after a thief stole one of her favorite statues out of her front yard while she was watching…

It’s mostly petty crime that neighbors are sick and tired of:  stolen lawn ornaments, vandalism.  But for neighbors like Tolonen, a breast-cancer survivor, that’s enough: “I will defend myself — and my home,” she told KOIN 6 News.

Tolonen recently had a beloved statue she calls “Lilly Rose” stolen off her front porch. She said she even saw the man who stole it and tried to chase him down — but he got away.

This was the last straw for Tolonen, who decided to take a class to get her concealed carry permit.

We are seeing similar things happen in other areas of the nation.  As I wrote about yesterday, the size of the police force has been cut in half in the city of Detroit over the past ten years.  Meanwhile, crime rates have skyrocketed.  So frustrated citizens are now teaming up with the police to patrol their own neighborhoods

Volunteers given radios and matching T-shirts help officers protect neighborhoods where burglaries, thefts and thugs drive away people who can’t rely on a police force that lost a quarter of its strength since 2009. With 25 patrols on the streets, the city hopes to add three each year. Meanwhile, the homicide rate continues rising.

In some wealthier neighborhoods around the country, citizens are pooling their resources and are hiring private security firms to ward off criminals.  Just check out what is happening in Oakland

After people in Oakland’s wealthy enclaves like Oakmore or Piedmont Pines head to work, security companies take over, cruising the quiet streets to ward off burglars looking to take advantage of unattended homes.

“With less law enforcement on the streets and more home crime or perception of home crime, people are wanting something to replace that need,” says Chris de Guzman, chief operating officer of First Alarm, a company that provides security to about 100 homes in Oakland. “That’s why they’re calling us and bringing companies like us aboard to provide that deterrent.”

According to Steve Amitay, the executive director of the National Association of Security Companies, this is also happening in other high crime cities such as Atlanta and Detroit.  In fact, it is being projected that the “private cop” business is going to absolutely boom in the years ahead.

But not everyone can afford to hire private cops.  Those with more limited resources are trying to cope with rising crime any way that they can.

In Chicago, firefighters are actually being enlisted to provide security for public school students walking to and from school

The city of Chicago has ordered its firefighters to provide security for public school students walking to and from class through the city’s gang turf, according to an official memo from the Chicago Fire Department that WND obtained.

The memo, signed by Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, states that the fire department will have “a strong physical presence” along student walking routes for three weeks at the beginning of the school year in the fall.

Sadly, this is just the beginning.  As the U.S. economy continues to get even worse, so will crime, gang activity and social decay.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone will be bad.

The truth is that there are still some decent people out there.

Today, someone sent me a story about human decency that made me smile.  In Laguna Niguel, California a man accidentally sold a wooden watch box for $10 that contained his wife’s $23,000 wedding ring.  When his wife found out about it, she was absolutely crushed

Racquel Cloutier was distraught after her husband, Eric, told her he had sold the wooden watch box in which she had hidden the ring before going to hospital to have their fifth child. “I immediately started crying,” said Mrs. Cloutier, 31, of Laguna Niguel, California. “I just wanted the ring to be in a safe place and out of reach from my two-year-old twins.”

Fortunately, the box had ended up with a very honest couple…

A dozen kilometres away, in Mission Viejo, Alyssa and Andrew Lossau were frantically searching for a set of keys. They looked inside a box that Mrs. Lossau’s mother, Chaundel Holladay, had bought at a garage sale and given them as a gift.

Inside, they discovered the three-carat diamond ring. Mrs. Lossau found an email address for Mrs Cloutier and contacted her. “It is giving me faith in people again,” said Mr. Cloutier, 38. “By the grace of God it ended up with the most honest people,” said his wife.

So that story had a very happy ending.

There are still people out there that are ready and willing to do the right thing.

But not everyone is that way.  It has been said that desperate people do desperate things, and when the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes there are going to be millions of very desperate people out there on the streets of America.

Now is the time to get prepared for that.

Rotting, Decaying And Bankrupt – If You Want To See The Future Of America Just Look At Detroit

The Future Of The United States - Photo by Albert DuceEventually the money runs out.  Much of America was shocked when the city of Detroit defaulted on a $39.7 million debt payment and announced that it was suspending payments on $2.5 billion of unsecured debt, but those who visit my site on a regular basis were probably not too surprised.  Anyone with half a brain and a calculator could see this coming from a mile away.  But people kept foolishly lending money to the city of Detroit, and now many of them are going to get hit really hard.  Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has submitted a proposal that would pay unsecured creditors about 10 cents on the dollar.  Similar haircuts would be made to underfunded pension and health benefits for retirees.  Orr is hoping that the creditors and the unions that he will be negotiating with will accept this package, but he concedes that there is still a “50-50 chance” that the city of Detroit will be forced to formally file for bankruptcy.  But what Detroit is facing is not really that unique.  In fact, Detroit is a perfect example of what the future of America is going to look like.  We live in a nation that is rotting, decaying, drowning in debt and racing toward insolvency.  Already there are dozens of other cities across the nation that are poverty-ridden, crime-infested hellholes just like Detroit is, and hundreds of other communities are rapidly heading in that direction.  So don’t look down on Detroit.  They just got there before the rest of us.

The following are some facts about Detroit that are absolutely mind-blowing…

1 – Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, and in 1960 Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

2 – Over the past 60 years, the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.

3 – At this point, approximately 40 percent of all the streetlights in the city don’t work.

4 – Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.

5 – 210 of the 317 public parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down.

6 – According to the New York Times, there are now approximately 70,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit.

7 – Approximately one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.

8Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.

9 – If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

10 – According to one very shocking report, 47 percent of the residents of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

11 – Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

12 – Ten years ago, there were approximately 5,000 police officers in the city of Detroit.  Today, there are only about 2,500 and another 100 are scheduled to be eliminated from the force soon.

13 – Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

14 – The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

15 – Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“.

16 – Right now, the city of Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.

As Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr noted last week, it took a very long time for Detroit to get into this condition…

“What the average Detroiter needs to understand is that where we are right now is a culmination of years and years and years of kicking the can down the road,” said Orr, adding that his proposal should not be seen as a “hostile act” but as a step in the right direction.

Does that sound familiar?

It should.

U.S. politicians have also been kicking the can down the road for “years and years and years”.

But eventually you can’t kick the can down the road anymore.

Sometimes it is helpful to step back and look at what we have done to ourselves over the past several decades.

For example, back in 1980 the U.S. national debt was less than one trillion dollars.  Today, it is rapidly approaching 17 trillion dollars.

And our debt binge has greatly accelerated under Barack Obama.

During Barack Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

Isn’t that insane?

In fact, if you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

The following are a lot more facts about our exploding national debt from one of my previous articles entitled “55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know“…

#1 While Barack Obama has been president, the U.S. government has spent about 11 dollars for every 7 dollars of revenue that it has actually brought in.

#2 During the fiscal year that just ended, the U.S. government took in 2.449 trillion dollars but it spent 3.538 trillion dollars.

#3 During fiscal year 2011, over a trillion dollars of government money was spent on 83 different welfare programs, and those numbers do not even include Social Security or Medicare.

#4 Over the past four years, welfare spending has increased by 32 percent.  In inflation-adjusted dollars, spending on those programs has risen by 378 percent over the past 30 years.  At this point, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.  Once again, these figures do not even include Social Security or Medicare.

#5 Over the past year, the number of Americans getting a free cell phone from the federal government has grown by 43 percent.  Now more than 16 million Americans are enjoying what has come to be known as an “Obamaphone”.

#6 When Barack Obama first entered the White House, about 32 million Americans were on food stamps.  Now, 47 million Americans are on food stamps.  And this has happened during what Obama refers to as “an economic recovery”.

#7 The U.S. government recently spent 27 million dollars on pottery classes in Morocco.

#8 The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar at a time when more families than ever are having a really hard time just trying to put any food on the table at all.

#9 During 2012, the National Science Foundation spent $516,000 to support the creation of a video game called “Prom Week”, which apparently simulates “all the social interactions of the event.

#10 The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the largest snack food maker in the world (PepsiCo Inc.) a total of 1.3 million dollars in corporate welfare that was used to help build “a Greek yogurt factory in New York.

#11 The National Science Foundation recently gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000.  They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.

#12 If you can believe it, $10,000 from the federal government was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes up in Michigan.

#13 The National Science Foundation recently gave a whopping $697,177 to a New York City-based theater company to produce a musical about climate change.

#14 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is studying the benefits of watching reruns on television.

#15 The National Science Foundation has given 1.2 million dollars to a team of “scientists” that is spending part of that money on a study that is seeking to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing World of Warcraft or not.

#16 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $548,731 to a team of researchers that concluded that those that drink heavily in their thirties also tend to feel more immature.

#17 The National Science Foundation recently spent $30,000 on a study to determine if “gaydar” actually exists.  This is the conclusion that the researchers reached at the end of the study…

“Gaydar is indeed real and… its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features”

#18 Back in 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

#19 The U.S. government spends more on the military than China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined.  In fact, the United States accounts for 41.0% of all military spending on the planet.  China is next with only 8.2%.

#20 In a previous article, I noted that close to 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.

#21 In 2006, only 12 percent of all federal workers made $100,000 or more per year.  Now, approximately 22 percent of all federal workers do.

#22 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.

#23 During 2010, the average federal employee in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.

#24 The U.S. Department of Defense had just nine civilians earning $170,000 or more back in 2005.  When Barack Obama became president, the U.S. Department of Defense had 214 civilians earning $170,000 or more.  By June 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense had 994 civilians earning $170,000 or more.

#25 During 2010, compensation for federal employees came to a grand total of approximately 447 billion dollars.

#26 If you can believe it, close to 15,000 retired federal employees are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  That list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#27 During 2010, the federal government spent $33,387 on the hair care needs of U.S. Senators.

#28 During 2010, U.S. Senators pulled $72,370 out of the “Senate Restaurant Fund”.

#29 During 2010, an average of $4,005,900 of U.S. taxpayer money was spent on “personal” and “office” expenses per Senator.

#30 In 2013, 3.7 million dollars will be spent to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

#31 During 2011, the federal government spent a total of 1.4 BILLION dollars just on the Obamas.

#32 When you combine all federal government spending, all state government spending and all local government spending, it comes to approximately 41 percent of U.S. GDP.  But don’t worry, all of our politicians insist that this is not socialism.

#33 As I have written about previously, less than 30 percent of all Americans lived in a home where at least one person received financial assistance from the federal government back in 1983.  Today, that number is sitting at an all-time high of 49 percent.

#34 Back in 1990, the federal government accounted for just 32 percent of all health care spending in America.  This year, it is being projected that the federal government will account for more than 50 percent of all health care spending in the United States.

#35 The number of Americans on Medicaid soared from 34 million in 2000 to 54 million in 2011, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#36 In one of my previous articles, I discussed how it is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

#37 If you can believe it, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#38 In the United States today, more than 61 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

#39 Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

#40 When Barack Obama first took office, the U.S. national debt was about 10.6 trillion dollars.  Now it is about 16.7 trillion dollars.  That is an increase of 6.1 trillion dollars in a little more than 4 years.

#41 The federal government has now run a budget deficit of more than a trillion dollars for four years in a row.

#42 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

#43 If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#44 Some suggest that “taxing the rich” is the answer.  Well, if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

#45 If the federal government used GAAP accounting standards like publicly traded corporations do, the real federal budget deficit for 2011 would have been 5 trillion dollars instead of 1.3 trillion dollars.

#46 The United States already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain does.

#47 At this point, the United States government is responsible for more than a third of all the government debt in the entire world.

#48 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.

#49 Between 2007 and 2010, U.S. GDP grew by only 4.26%, but the U.S. national debt soared by 61% during that same time period.

#50 The U.S. national debt is now more than 37 times larger than it was when Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard.

#51 The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

#52 The U.S. national debt jumped more on the very first day of fiscal year 2013 than it did from 1776 to 1941 combined.

#53 Historically, the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has averaged 6.68 percent.  If the average interest rate on U.S. government debt rose to that level today, the U.S. government would find itself spending more than a trillion dollars per year just on interest on the national debt.

#54 A recently revised IMF policy paper entitled “An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” projects that U.S. government debt will rise to about 400 percent of GDP by the year 2050.

#55 Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff is warning that the U.S. government is facing a gigantic tsunami of unfunded liabilities in the coming years that we are counting on our children and our grandchildren to pay.  Kotlikoff speaks of a “fiscal gap” which he defines as “the present value difference between projected future spending and revenue”.  His calculations have led him to the conclusion that the federal government is facing a fiscal gap of 222 trillion dollars in the years ahead.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We are in the process of committing national financial suicide and time is rapidly running out to do anything about it.

Just like Detroit, a day is rapidly approaching when America will not be able to kick the can down the road anymore.

Sadly, our politicians don’t seem inclined to do anything about it and most of the population seems to think that our exploding national debt is not a significant problem.

By the time it becomes clear how wrong they were, it will be far too late to do anything about it.

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