Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Random Thoughts

This is just a collection of random thoughts and observations.

Just the other day I was debating a retired professor of economics. Like so many others who believe in economics, he cannot even see that there is no real science there, just theology. We went roundabout on the topic of changes to statistical gathering methods made by the government since the 1970s intended to paint a better picture than actually exists but even after finally admitting that he could not compare 1970s data to 2007 data, he wanted me to bet him whether the 2007 data for the fourth quarter would be "positive" or not... using the government's own statistics to settle the bet, of course. The sheer hypocrisy and ignorance that he demonstrated throughout that discussion should give great pause to any of you who still think that homo sapiens is a "rational" animal and that this rationality is leading somewhere sensible.

I've also noticed that the arctic meltdown has entered the mainstream media, at least briefly. I don't expect it to displace Hollywood stars though. After all, this culture has to focus on what's really important, not piddling things like destroying the planet, right? Nonetheless, we are establishing new record lows for Arctic sea ice, more than a million square kilometers below the old record of just 2 years ago. Has this turned exponential? You can't say for sure based on one year's data but my gut feel is that it has.

And the naysayers are out in force now that it is September. They are picking on Matthew Simmons who said IF we have a bad combination of circumstances that global oil and especially gasoline tightness could result in much unpleasantness here at home. Well so far it happens that the US of A has managed to escape any unpleasantness this summer. Hurricanes have luckily steered south and there's been no huge need for a surge of gasoline in any one week. Lucky for us but there are the cornucopians claiming Simmons said something he did not say and then trying to crucify him for it.

Meanwhile, the credit crunch continues with some extraordinary borrowing in the last two weeks from the Fed to customers. Certain Fed customers are getting loans (via repos) at 0% to 1%!! Check out the temporary open market actions by the NY Federal Reserve, which is the branch of the Fed that does this if you want to see what I mean. Look at the late August period for examples. (You can always get that from the historical series even if it falls off the most recent 25 actions list.) So who is getting the sweet deals with very cheap money exactly when the Fed says money should not be getting cheaper? Methinks Bernanke speaks with a forked tongue.

Worse, on Thursday, September 6, the Fed injected a near record $31.25 billion dollars into the economy. (Look for the September 6, 2007 data in the above Temporary Open Market Actions link.) Unfortunately, it's not going anywhere from all accounts. The inner circle of "credit worthy" banks to whom the Fed has restricted its lending does not seem to be lending this money back out except at exorbitant rates so no one is borrowing. (You can see this rate discrepancy in the T-Bill/LIBOR difference.)

At the same time there is no letup in what is happening out in the real world. Mortgage foreclosures are at record highs and not turning downward it seems. Unemployment is far worse than the BLS is letting on as they revise prior months and try to put the best face on the current month. So far today (September 7th), the DOW is down over 200 points though it looks like the PPT is just trying to run a holding action and keep it from utterly crashing while the Fed figures out their next move since the inter-bank lending has apparently all but dried up.

Meanwhile oil is testing its old highs as demand remains stiff and OPEC refuses to budge. The prior drops in oil were directly attributed to market players trying to raise cash to protect other positions. Now that wave of selling has ended and oil has popped right back up near $80 per barrel. Then add in Israeli overflights of Syria to which Syria responded with anti-aircraft fire and we have the makings of a reintroduction of the $15 "fear premium".

And then there are the curious military activities over the next month, roughly. We have (a) an Air Force stand down action (which they did right before and during 9/11), (b) an Army exercise aimed at simulating the declaration of martial law throughout a large portion of the United States, and (c) a Homeland Security exercise aimed at simulating the detonation of "dirty" radioactive bombs in Guam, Phoenix, and Portland (recalling the locations from memory so don't quote me on those). We also just had the "accidental" overflight of a B-52 carrying nukes through the center of the United States, which is not supposed to happen. Except that it landed at Barksdale Air Force base and Barksdale is from where we ran the last set of Middle Eastern B-52 and B-2 attack flights at the start of the Iraq war. Curious, no?

Finally we have the massive anonymous short positions against the European and US stock markets that expire before the end of September, all betting that both markets will decline by 30% from their record highs.

This is all just so surreal that I can't believe I am seeing it happen. If we get a real event on US soil in the next two months and if it is radiological in nature, I will be firmly convinced that we will be witnessing a false flag operation by the Bush administration to further consolidate domestic power and to incite public reaction against Iran to allow for war.

But I am going to keep telling myself that this is all just coincidence - unless the radiological event really happens. Then look for the market crash and the US to hit Iran with a massive nuclear strike. And if that happens, all bets are off as to where we go then.


the stranger said...

“And then there are the curious military activities over the next month…”

Yeah, I don’t know what to say really; surreal works for me too. I was musing the same random thoughts myself.

Seems there was no real plan to fix anything, recently at least. And perhaps there is no realistic fix; not at such a late date. As it comes together, it’s so pat, that - ‘it must not be true if I can figure it out.’ Cliff dead ahead, no gauges, no brakes, petal to the metal.

The backside Hubbert's peak has already been greatly modified by technology; in the since that it allowed us to borrow production from the future. Payback will likely be stair-step drops.

I think the petroleum stone was effectively squeezed this last year or two, and made significant contributions to the swan song. But the derivative meltdown stopped the music, so a behind-the-scenes survey for exits and portable chairs has commenced. Politically, it seems at this point in time, you may still use exits and grab chairs; but neither is clearly labeled and both are burdened with fine print.

We may be heading toward Brave New World 2008.4 where self delusion or persecution are equally loathsome pseudo-choices. I’m rambling…

I just recently ran into this blog; enjoyed your comments when I would visit TOD. Thanks for your musings and the sojourn with sanity.

fallout11 said...

As always, prescient commentary Greyzone. Please keep up the wonderful work for the few who are paying attention.

Step Back said...

"Just the other day I was debating a retired professor of economics. ... The sheer hypocrisy and ignorance that he demonstrated throughout that discussion should give great pause to any of you who still think that homo sapiens is a "rational" animal."

I love it. Good story.
At killer_ape we are discussing "money" and it turns out that many a bright people have no idea what money is or how it is created out of thin air. It is amazing that in this day and age of the rational 21st Century man, no one asks simple questions: what is money? what are people? where does the oil come from?

It never ceases to amaze me.