Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Recession News - It will be late and mild

Well, this month brings something similar to good news. The numbers I have been seeing for the past several weeks are saying the recession is likely to wait several more months and is likely to be milder than I expected.  Here in the U.S., that is. The recession seems to be right on schedule in Europe and already started in Japan.

Of course if you bet heavily on us going into recession, this might be bad news.  I never bet heavily on any particular direction, and thus never lose a lot.  Never make a lot either. (Bit of my humor there.)

All though the past year or so, I saw copper losing ground, which is an indicator that manufacturing was weaker than everyone thought.  And then oil prices began to drop.  That is always a sign that a recession is beginning. And it is.  Just not here. The Department of Labor's statistics said this month that the U.S. added 170,000 manufacturing jobs in the past year.  While that is not spectacular, it is substantial.

What appears to be happening is some of the manufacturing that used to be overseas is now happening here in the U.S.  And what about that drop in oil prices? Well despite the Obama administration attempts to block oil production anywhere they could, oil and gas exploration and extraction has increased everywhere that the Fed's don't have jurisdiction.

Now, when the rest of the world goes into recession, it will have an effect on us.  But the effect will not be as bad as we once feared. On the other hand, things will not get better at any appreciable rate for as far into the future as I can forecast.

It may be noted that I don't have any links this month.  Just ran out of energy.
Will try to do better in the next few weeks.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The next recession may be starting now

Well, it looks as if the next downturn may be already beginning. There has been a perceptible slowdown in worldwide manufacturing and that is translating itself into visible numbers.  Gas, oil and copper prices falling. And employment numbers weakening (or down, depending on which numbers you look at).
Since December 2012, private industries paying up to about $14.50 an hour have added, on net, 972,000 nonsupervisory jobs with an average workweek of a mere 17.7 hours, an IBD analysis finds.
That doesn't mean new employees are being hired for such few hours. Rather, it reflects a combination of reduced hours in existing jobs and short workweeks for newly created jobs.
Overall, in these low-wage industries which employ 30 million rank-and-file workers, the average workweek shrank to 27.3 hours per week in July, an IBD analysis shows. That's the shortest workweek on record, except for this past February, when mid-month blizzards wreaked havoc during the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey week.
The conventional wisdom among economists is that there's been no apparent shift to part-time work and that ObamaCare's employer mandate hasn't led to shorter workweeks.
But shorter hours clocked by nonmanagers in low-wage industries are being obscured because the rest of the workforce is now clocking a longer average workweek than even before the recession started.
For low-wage industry workers, on the other hand, the recovery in the workweek from a then-record low 27.5 hours in mid-2009 began to reverse in the latter half of 2012, and it's been pretty much all downhill since then.
Evidence points to ObamaCare as an important factor in the shrinking workweek.

Read More At Investor's Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/economy/090514-716193-worst-job-stat-keeps-getting-worse.htm#ixzz3D8npd64y
Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook
 I am a bit disappointed we didn't get that year of prosperity I forecast last year, but it looks as though we may be in for a rough time in the next few years.

There are some good tidbits.  Or maybe "not so bad" tidbits.  With prices down, if you do have a job, there is no time like the present to be stocking up on things you will need to ride out the next few years.  Of course, if you are one of the millions who have fallen victim to Obama's policies and are now out of work, you will be struggling just to survive in the not too distant future.

Friday, July 04, 2014

July Economics Report - looking bad

The first part of this months report showed quite a few things looking pretty upbeat.  Enough so, that one could wonder why I think the upswing will run out of steam before there is a true recovery.

But the jobs market analysis is pretty horrible.  The guy I trust to do the analysis talks like it is catastrophic, but I chock it up to being just one more month with good looking numbers on the surface and some pretty dismal numbers underneath.

First, the headline number the government always tries to push, 288,000 new jobs, isn't too bad.  In fact anything over 200,000 jobs should be progress.  But the manufacturing jobs, where the wealth is created, was only about 15,0000, and we need 20,000 plus jobs there every month.  We haven't gotten sufficient growth in manufacturing jobs in any of the past several months.

But what is worse is the number of part time jobs vs the number of full time.  The number of full time jobs actually went down this month. By more than 288,000. So, what has happened, by and large, is that a lot of people who used to work a full time job, are now working two part time jobs.

I do recommend Mish Shedlock's blog on Global Economic Trend Analysis for learning and tracking economic news around the world.  I don't recommend learning about war from him.  First, I don't think he understands war.  I suspect he just cannot get his arms around the idea that someone will kill you for having an opinion different that their own.  Second, while he seems to have a fairly realistic opinion of how brutal and under handed our own government can be, he seems to not understand just how much more brutal and dishonest other governments tend to be. Third, his opinions on the war in Ukraine are being formed by someone with an agenda to make Russia look good and Ukraine and The West look bad.

All in all, he is a genius about economics, but about war- not so much.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

July Economics Report - looking good

Well, the markets are still rising.  The underlying economy got better too, though not enough to account for the markets, which were overpriced, and became more so this month.  People do, but should not, confuse a rising market with an improving economy.

The U.S. manufacturing sector turned in good numbers last week.  We seem to have gotten some real, though slight, growth over the past year. This growth is in parallel to the world wide growth in manufacturing.  These are good things. (Remember, it was around this time last year that I said I expected an 18 month growth cycle.  The length of the growth cycle seems to be slightly slower than expected, but should still run until the end of the year, and maybe a few months beyond.)

The jobs report is out a day early this month, due to the 4th of July weekend.  Not bad, considering it was several weeks late around this time last year, as the Obama administration threw a tantrum because we reminded them that the Administration works for us, and not us for him.

I don't have the analysis of the monthly payroll report yet, 
so I will have a follow up to this report, probably tomorrow 
(I don't take holidays the same way everyone else does).

Meanwhile, on the global stage, copper has been slowly rising, again pointing to an upsurge in world manufacturing. Add to this the June Global Grain Report from FoodSecurity.org showing the world grain reserves are higher than they have been in years, and it paints a pretty good picture of a world where things are getting better. (Don't get too deceived)

The U.S. Treasury bond market, however, doesn't paint such a good picture.  T-Bills are still pulling less than 1% interest for anything up to something over three (almost four) years, an indication that true recovery is still at least three years away. The unfortunate  flip-side to this number is devastatingly paradoxical.  The 18 month growth cycle I mentioned at the beginning of this article shows there will be NO true recovery.

Despite the Obama Administration attempting to roadblock crude oil production on several fronts, production of crude, and stuff made from it, has increased to the point where we are now net exporters.  This means that, in spite of all the talk about instability in the Middle East, the risk of interruption in the U.S. supplies is only the risk of damage to our own infrastructure.  This means we have risk from destruction of refineries or pipelines but not from an interruption in supplies from the Middle East. The natural gas sector has not done as well, although I am not sure why.

Our allies are not so fortunate.  Disruption in shipping through the Persian Gulf or disruptions in many other places put their supply at risk.  Much of Europe is hostage to supplies from Russia.  Especially Southern Europe, and the Balkans (small countries in Eastern Europe). The Ukraine and nearby countries are almost certain to suffer gas and oil shortages this coming winter.  And that doesn't mean it will just be cold in their homes.  Gas is necessary for industry, manufacturing, transportation, and other commerce.  Those things grinding to a halt this winter will slow the world economy, although only by a small percentage. 

I hope to be posting a follow up to this either late today or tomorrow.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Monthly Economic Post, Part 3

Payroll numbers are out, and again, I am letting Mish Shedlock do the heavy lifting.  His report is not as detailed as some of the ones he has done in the past, but then, this month is not that noteworthy. Employment numbers are up, but not quite enough to keep up with population growth.  Manufacturing, likewise, is up, but not enough to keep up with population growth.  Another stagnant month in the actual economy.

The market have risen for another month, as they have for the past dozen months.  Not to be confused with the economy, the markets are rising because people invest, and they invest because they think the markets will rise.  This will continue until enough of those betting on the markets need to use that money for something else, and then there will be a race to the bottom.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Monthly Economic Outlook Pt. 2

It appears there is real growth in the Manufacturing Sector, as the ISM is above my benchmark of 52.5, which is where I consider real growth to start.

While this growth doesn't seem to be adequate to account for the market bubble, it may be more in line with my expectations that 2014 would be a year of good economic growth. This may be the growth I predicted in August of last year, and again in December of last year. 

My feelings on this are "well, it's about time." The malaise we experienced from Feb until now had me concerned we might just remain stagnant for an extended period, possibly running into years.

Of course, in a way, that would have been a good thing, as the good economy of the next few months (I don't know how many) will inevitably be followed by the economy turning downwards again, and another recession. 

The Employment situation from Bureau of Labor Statistics is supposed to come out later this morning, and it will complete the current picture.

UPDATE: It appears the "stupid money" I predicted would surge into the markets may have already begun.  'Mish' Shedlock has an article on his blog showing a surge in risky investments that may be larger than the surges that preceded the bubble collapses of 2000 and 2007. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Monthly Economic Outlook, Part 1

There hasn't been a whole lot to report in economics for the last two months.  Mostly just a stagnant malaise in the economy, and a steady climb (bull market) in the markets that does not reflect the true underlying economic conditions. There has been, in the past few weeks, a slight increase in the price of copper, which means manufacturing is making something of a comeback.  It will need to get above $3.33 per pound, though, to reflect a healthy manufacturing base.

I noticed a slight change in the bond market the past couple of days, and it may be that some of the more conservative investors are moving their money out of the stock market into long term (10 years) Treasury Bonds. 

This would be in keeping with the thoughts I heard from a couple of analysts that we are in pretty far along in a Bull Market.  Now, if common people begin to think the stock market is a place they can make money, we may soon see what is known as stupid money flowing into it.  This is money that is put into stocks in a way that is completely disconnected from any reality of what those stocks are worth. (The very definition of a market bubble.) They unwittingly play a game called the "greater fool rule" where as long as there is someone who will pay more for the stock tomorrow or next week, the stocks will continue to rise.

At this point, all of the traditional investors will leave stocks for bonds or money market accounts, and people with a (sometimes unconscious) survivalist mentality will begin to buy into silver, platinum, gold and palladium.  Of course, most of these people (at least in the US and Europe) will buy their metals on paper, since that is more convenient. A side effect of this is that more metal might be traded than actually exists in the world, so prices might climb fairly steeply.  

Around this time last year, I expected the market to go into the major bubble building phase in the last half of this year.  But at the time, I didn't know the government statisticians were playing around with the methods they use to generate their numbers.  That is why I didn't see the stagnant malaise we were in during the last few months of 2013. Of course, that screwed up my timetable pretty dramatically, but the underlying ideas are still sound. I am still trying to judge when the market will go into bubble overdrive, and then burst.  Of course, no one knows this for certain.  Anyone who can reliably predict when the bubble will burst would soon be rich.

But I can guess when it will get dangerously unstable.  Currently, I would look for the S&P to pass 2200 and for the bubble to continue to build past the end of the year. But I have to repeat that this is just a guess.  The only thing certain is that there will be a bubble, and it will burst.  Safe bets are that it will be a stock bubble (some analysts say we are already in one), and that just as it bursts gold and silver will rise (but I don't know if it will rise by 30%, or 130%). 

For your reading pleasure:
Anyone who is thinking clearly knows the economic system fostered by central banks is totally and completely out of control.

Repetitive rounds of QE, competitive currency debasement, interest rates at zero, and sponsorship of the internet bubble followed by the housing bubble, followed by the current stock market bubble is proof enough.

So, what I am about to report is really nothing but common sense, except for the fact that it comes from an unusual place, where one does not normally hear such discussions.

J├╝rgen Stark, former vice president of the Bundesbank, and also former chief economist of the ECB (unofficial title) says "The System is Out of Control". Via translation from Libre Mercado:
[read what Stark says at the link] 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Ukraine, China, and Obamacare Drag us Down

The Ukraine

The markets reacted quite negatively to the invasion of Crimea (in the southernmost tip of Ukraine) by Russian forces.  But they returned to normal about 3 days later, when Putin made promises that he wouldn't be using any military forces in the Ukraine. 

It looks, on the surface, like the sudden alarm throughout the rest of the world has caused him to reconsider, and he is back pedaling. After all, the impact on Russian markets has been pretty dramatic, and Putin has been making overtures like he is backing down, even claiming the troops in Crimea aren't Russian at all.
Putin, speaking at a news conference at his residence outside Moscow on Tuesday, denied that the troops guarding Ukrainian military installations across Crimea were regular Russian troops, claiming that they were "local self-defense forces." Many of the uniforms on those troops lack identifying insignia, but their vehicles and uniforms appear to be Russian. Putin shrugged the accusation off, saying "The post-Soviet space is full of such uniforms."
Make no mistake Putin, former KGB isn't backing down.  He is playing a global chess game with us, and likely has figured his next three moves every step of the way.

China and Copper

China has been changing their statistics and forecasts about as often as the weather changes.  Recently, they noted some "softness" in their manufacturing sector that they are seeking to "fine tune." Hogwash. Manufacturing in China has been slowing for some time, and absolutely must slow more before recovery can begin.  In the past couple of years, the Chinese economy has been hollowing out, with bad loans, and building that have been built that no one is occupying.

One noticeable effect of the manufacturing slowdown has been the price of copper, which has been slowly losing ground for the past couple of years, especially in light of the cost of energy.  Since European manufacturing has been flat, and US manufacturing has risen slightly, the only explanation must be a slowdown elsewhere.  Elsewhere in this case has been India and China.

Obamacare and the mid term elections

Obama has been backpedaling on his Unaffordable Care Atrocity for some time now, and with the mid term elections approaching, expect more backpedaling and 'nuancing' (lying).  Already this program has put hundreds of thousands out of full time employment and cause cuts in hours to hundreds of thousands more. It has caused the loss of medical insurance to millions, and increases in rates to almost everyone else. The administration's PR machine keeps trotting out fictitious numbers of people who have signed up for healthcare, but when checked the numbers don't match anything that can be confirmed by any means.  They seem to be made up out of whole cloth.

Remember though, these are all pretty much ancillary news items. The really important numbers (private employment and manufacturing payroll) will be out on Friday.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Economic Future in Question

Some changes in the underlying numbers have called into question, the upturn in the economic situation I predicted last fall.  One of the more troubling aspects is a round of "adjustments" made to the basic calculations I use to determine the underlying health of our economy. 

Another  problem I recently became aware of, is the expanding number of people carrying two jobs in the statistics.  I was unaware both that the monthly payroll report I follow was tracking them twice, and unaware of just how many of these people there are, especially how many more of them there are since Obamacare caused so many to lose their full time jobs.

I have discovered a new blog, "Global Economic Analysis" by 'Mish' Shedlock, that does a lot of straight talk about the world economy.  He holds an  underlying philosophy of economics very similar to mine, but since he does analysis full time, instead of a few hours a month, he sees a lot of stuff I don't. 

Here is his article on the Labor Statistics, and the double reporting of jobs.
The third table shows the volatile nature of the data, especially the household survey. It's the second table that is the important one. Take special note of the bottom two lines in the second table.

Until this past year, the establishment survey and household survey moved tightly. In the last 12 months, the payroll survey averaged a gain of 191,000 jobs a month while the household survey averaged less than half of that at 92,000 jobs per month.
Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2013/12/enormous-discrepancy-between-jobs-and.html#dP5AxjiU7CwtPyPD.99
 The third table shows the volatile nature of the data, especially the household survey. It's the second table that is the important one. Take special note of the bottom two lines in the second table.
Until this past year, the establishment survey and household survey moved tightly. In the last 12 months, the payroll survey averaged a gain of 191,000 jobs a month while the household survey averaged less than half of that at 92,000 jobs per month.
The third table shows the volatile nature of the data, especially the household survey. It's the second table that is the important one. Take special note of the bottom two lines in the second table.

Until this past year, the establishment survey and household survey moved tightly. In the last 12 months, the payroll survey averaged a gain of 191,000 jobs a month while the household survey averaged less than half of that at 92,000 jobs per month.
Read more at http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2013/12/enormous-discrepancy-between-jobs-and.html#dP5AxjiU7CwtPyPD.99
The higher number 191,000 jobs a month would mean the underlying economy is doing just enough to keep us above water, but the lower number shows we were clearly sinking in 2013.

This is not the only statistic to be affected by the way it is calculated. GDP calculations changed last year, and the effect is likely to be a 3% difference in the numbers, with no difference in the economy.
More about that, found at "Inc,"a financial investor newspage.

I am still trying to process how this will all play out this year and next, but I know it won't be as cut and dry as I first thought it would be.  (Are things of the future ever so clear that we simply know what to do?)

One point of good news, Mish Shedlock sees the US economy as far more resilient than I usually do (although he has been about as astonished as I am that Europe has held together in the face of numbers that clearly do not work).  He also sees a future without the very high inflation spiral that most of us see. He sees rather, that things will grind down to a near halt, with Peter impoverished so that robbing him will still not be able to pay Paul. (Me, I am not so convinced)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Red Light LED - a Prepper's Friend

A current requirement of any headlight I buy (and I buy quite a few, both for me and for some of my friends) is that they have a red light LED setting. The reasons for this are pretty simple, and I will present three or four, depending on how you count them. 

The first red light doesn't kill night vision.  This is the real reason the military has provided red lenses on their flashlights for more years than I can remember. (I will expose a myth later) The red light, while not ideal for seeing things, is adequate for identifying location and shape of objects, which is the primary purpose of using a light. 

Red LED's are more efficient.  Simply stated, red LED's, to produce the same amount of light, require only about half (maybe less) of the power of white LED's. This is because the white LED's use produce one color of light, and use that light to excite phosphorous to create the rest of the spectrum. 

Combined, the above effects allow for for less than one fourth of the battery drain, and your batteries can be drained further.  The ultimate result is a usable battery life nearly eight times what you would get with white light. This will give you a great deal of leverage to reduce the number of AAA and even AA batteries you need to keep on hand. Even better if you have one of the few LED lanterns that have a red LED setting and use D batteries (D batteries provide a lot more energy for your dollar).

Last but not least.

The last advantage I will cover is red light doesn't attract mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes, and most other insects are attracted to blue light (think: bug zapper).  White light contains blue light, so mosquitoes are attracted to it. The yellow porch lights don't give off much blue light, so bugs pretty much ignore them (as an aside, I once painted a CFL half yellow and half red, and the result was a little light that gave nearly normal color vision but didn't attract insects and didn't blind people)

Now, on to the myth.

As with anything the Army does, some mythology grows up around it. What red light doesn't do is make you unseen by others. Think about it. Towers have red lights on them so they can be seen by aircraft.  In fact red light can be seen a long ways away.  Blue light is harder to see at a long distance, but in fact, any light can be seen much further than the average person would expect. And I don't recommend blue light because of it's attraction to mosquitoes.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gun advise number 6

A modification and update to what I have previously written on guns and ammo.

As I have learned more about guns and ammo over the two years since I wrote on the subject, and as the world situation has changed, I find I need to modify my advice on the subject, mainly about ammo.

Today's world has become a lot more dangerous, and the prudent homeowner or family defender needs to improve their skills, since there is no point in scoring a second place finish.

Today's threat is more likely to be armed, more likely to be more than one attacker, more likely to attack violently and suddenly, and most of the time, in low light situations. 

I am discussing home defense almost exclusively here, and will take up other related subjects in future articles.

How much ammo do I need to keep on hand?

First, as a lesson learned during the recent ammo droughts, I now believe everyone should be buying their ammo by the case. Initially buy a case of each kind of practice ammo you plan to use, and find a kind of defense ammo you are satisfied with (more about that later, since I will be modifying my advice on defense ammo) and buy at least enough to cover the three year supply I discuss here. 

My current advise is to keep a three year supply of ammo, at your normal usage rate.  This means that if you shoot once a quarter, and each time you shoot, you use about 50 rounds, you need to have about 600 rounds of ammo. My next point is that you should be shooting at least a few of your defense rounds each time you go to the range, so you will be certain your weapon will fire them reliably.  This isn't too important with a revolver (unless your defense and practice ammo are vastly different, and then you should do it to insure you can reliably hit the target with it), but with an semiautomatic handgun, or even a defense rifle, I recommend, at the very least, shoot the last round of fire be with your defense ammo.

So, doing the math, if you shoot 50 rounds of practice ammo and 10 rounds of defense ammo each quarter, you also need 120 rounds of defense ammo. If you have a compact revolver, and only shoot 15 rounds of practice and 5 of defense, you only need 180 rounds of practice and 60 of defense, but I would go ahead and buy a case of the practice ammo, just to get a better price. You will probably use it eventually.

More info on JHP ammo. 

I wrote before about how to select defense ammo, but a few factors have come to my attention since then. To expand properly, almost all hollow point ammo need to impact at around 800 fps or more. Also, to gain penetration depth the round needs to be fairly heavy for the caliber. 

I found a passage in an article of Shooting Illustrated that sums up using a handgun to defend yourself in a gunfight today:
"Defensive handguns are very inadequate at stopping bad guys. The bullets make small holes and damage small amounts of tissue. Like GunSite instructor Charlie McNeese says, “Humans are hydraulic machines; they run on fluid.” All you can really hope a defensive handgun bullet will do is let a lot of fluid out in a hurry.
The problem with this approach is that even with a big leak, a bad guy can operate long enough to return the favor."

This problem really gets difficult with the 2in to 3in barrel lengh found on some subcompact pistols used for concealed carry.  A secondary problem with defensive ammo, which is made worse with a short barrel, is muzzle flash. Hornady makes a Critical Defense round and Buffalow Bore makes ammo for defensive pistol use that is flash suppressed and is specifically designed to generate a lot of power from a short barrel. I believe Speer uses the same powder (but with a slightly lighter charge) in their Gold Dot ammo.  Corbon and possibly a couple other brands may be marketing flash suppressed powers also. but I can't find their spec's at this time.

Over the past two years I have studied ammo design and watched dozens of tests using a standard block of gelatin covered with four layers of denim.  The effect desired is to see a large cavity just after the bullet enters the geletain, and the bullet penetrating 12-15 inches into the block of gel. The denim mimics heavy clothing (and is near the worst case) that might clog the nose of a hollow point bullet. The geletain, while not completely mimicing real life tissue, is about as close as any consistant medium gets. 

And the key word here is consistant. Bullets will behave differently in body tissues, but how they will behave
will depend on where in the body they are.  The test gives results that are consistent for testing one bullet against another.  There are variations on this test, using a layer of simulated bone or using phone books instead of geletain. The big advantage of geletain is that impact on the geletain results in expansion of the bullet in a fasion almost identical to the expansion you get from most body tissues. The disadvantage is that once the bullet drops to a lower speed, it will continue forward further than it will in body tissue, especially muscle, cartilage or bone, thus the need for 15 inches penetration. 

Over the past 15 years, there has been a considerable improvement made in bullet design. The ends of hollow point bullets today have notches and grooves cut in them, making them expand more easily, but preventing them from expanding so far they cannot penetrate far or break though bone. Some bullets now have a polymer plug in the hollow cavity that prevents them from clogging when they pass through something before hitting tissue. (A variant on this is the soft point found on some ammo that will expand a lot like a hollow point, such as found in "Guard Dog" ammo). In addition, the better JHP's today have a bonded jacket (or are completly alloy) that insures the bullet will not frament, since fragmentation will reduce penetration depth.


Another place I will make an adjustment to my former advise is shotgun ammo.  I still recommend ONLY buckshot for self defense, but now I will say any good "name brand" #4 buckshot load will suffice.  12 gauge shells come in 2-3/4 inch and 3 inch.  Some shotguns will only take the 2-3/4 inch, so I recommend getting that size exclusively. That way ammo can be traded with a neighbor if need be.  No need for premium anything. At close range 12 gauge delivers more than double the shock, and causes more than double the bleeding of any common handgun caliber. At medium to long range, a lighter load will allow you to make follow up shots faster and more accurately.

In my third article, I said on the second or third trip to the range, you may want to try doing a double tap (attempting to hit the center of the target twice as quickly as possible) or engage multiple targets.  And I said "How much or how often you need to practice does depend on how much responsibility you have."

But todays criminals are tougher, more likely to be armed, and more likely to work in teams.

Now I say train until you can hit center of the target two or three times quickly and train until you can hit multiple targets quickly.  But never practice doing it faster than you can score hits.  Missed shots not only don't count, they count against you. According to one article I read, you should be firing your shots less than six seconds after putting your sights on the target.  Too long and your muscles will begin to fatigue and shake.  At close range, of course, you should be able to get off at least one shot per second. To achieve this level of proficiency will likely take a lot of dry fire practice, and several trips to the range.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Numbers lining up, for a good 2014

The monthly payroll numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are out, and they are good.

Most of the following comes from one of the Calculated Risk blog entries for today, which is taken directly from the BLS published report that was released this morning. My thanks to Calculated Risk for putting it in English. BTW, Calculated Risk provides a wealth of economics information, in easily understandable language, with lots of excellent graphs. They post about three or four entries a day.

More than 200,000 increase in payroll. More than 20,000 increase in manufacturing. ISM manufacturing Index is about 56.5, beating the 52.5 point (at which I say it is balanced) for the sixth straight month. The civilian labor force increased, causing the labor participation rate to improve for the first time since Obama took office. The employment-population ratio increased by 0.3 percentage point to 58.6 percent in November, reversing a decline of the same size in the prior month.

None of this should surprise anyone who follows economics on this blog, as I said, back in August, we have begun an upswing, and I predicted then, that it would last for about 18 months.

Everything looks like it is lining up for a good year (2014) in the financial world, and a decent growth in the economy for the same. My personal forecasts remain the same, meaning we are almost 6 months into an 18 month up cycle. I should note, I have never been good at forecasting the length of an upcycle, and 2 out of the last five downturns caught me flat footed. I hope to pay enough attention to this one to have an advanced notice of the next downturn.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Staying out of the Next Pandemic

I ran across an article discussing how a lab, working with genetically modified viruses could work to contain a pandemic if the virus escaped the lag. They have some interesting ideas and this one caught my eye.

We find that the containment depends on the timely implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions and contact tracing and it may be effective (>90% probability per event) only for pathogens with moderate transmissibility (reproductive number no larger than R0 = 1.5). Containment depends on population density and structure as well, with a probability of giving rise to a global event that is three to five times lower in rural areas. 
Results suggest that controllability of escape events is not guaranteed and, given the rapid increase of biosafety laboratories worldwide, this poses a serious threat to human health. Our findings may be relevant to policy makers when designing adequate preparedness plans and may have important implications for determining the location of new biosafety laboratories worldwide.
Food for thought.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Flat Growth Numbers and Painting Ourselves into a Corner

At first look, the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics looks good, with more than 212k in job growth and more than 19k growth in manufacturing jobs, and favorable revisions to last month's report.  While these numbers are nothing to write home about, they are almost an anomaly in the face of all other indicators that indicate a stagnant economy.

In just the past 48 hours before the labor report came out, there was a dramatic shift in the markets, with a lot of money coming out of stocks.  Some of it went into bonds, but a considerable amount just "went away." This is because many investors traders and speculators buy stocks "on margin," which means a lot of the money in the stock market is borrowed.  The money that just "went away" was simply paid back to the lenders. Some analysts consider this to be an increase in "cash positions." While this is an interesting phenomenon, demonstrating that the markets are, as we say "as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs" the amount of changes in the market have been pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

The S&P 500 (SPX) posted its biggest loss since Aug. 27 yesterday, as faster-than-estimated U.S. growth fueled speculation the economy is strong enough to withstand a reduction in Fed support. The gauge has lost 0.8 percent so far this week,
In the global economy of the past few weeks, confidence in Europe (Germany, in particular) has been pretty high, and confidence in Asia pretty low. We are sitting at about middle ground. A sign that the gobal economy might be slowing down is copper (copper is a long term indicator for the health of the manufacturing sector), which is lower than it was this time last year, and this time the year before (despite slight increases in cost of mining the mineral).

With the overall economic slowdowns, and the impending appointment of Janet Yellen as the next Fed Chair, QE is likely to go on for some time (maybe for years, as I will point out below). While the injection of 1050 Billion Dollars a year into the economy should be creating a serious inflationary trend, inflation seems to be mute, indicating  that without the injection there would be another recession and deflation.

Here is something new to me:

The Fed may be painting itself into a corner.

The longer the Federal Reserve continues its bond-buying stimulus, the higher the odds it will face a year without any money to give the U.S. Treasury after taxpayers received a record $88.4 billion profit in 2012.

The Fed’s financial-crisis actions -- from acquiring debt in the 2008 rescues of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc. to three rounds of quantitative easing -- have led so far to the record payments. Now, the prospect of a stronger economy and rising interest rates means the value of the Fed’s bond holdings will fall at the same time its funding costs climb because the central bank pays interest on the excess reserves it holds for banks.
So, now the Fed has a vested interest in keeping interest rates low?  Some of this is not new to me.  The Fed holds T-Bills that it bought, that will go down in "value" if interest rates rise, but that is only important if they sell them or if there is a lot of inflation.

 Dudley said Oct. 15 in Mexico City that the Fed’s “traditional monetary-policy framework” has helped assure the central bank’s budget independence and thus support its overall independence. A “key question” is how unconventional measures that have ballooned the central bank’s balance sheet to a record $3.85 trillion may have threatened that status, he said.

“The Fed is a lightning rod: It attracts withering criticism from the Republican base,” said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at the Potomac Research Group in Washington. “So even after several years of turning huge profits over to Treasury, losses would embolden the Fed-haters.”

The Fed receives interest payments on its holdings of government securities and mortgage debt. It uses this and other income for the operations of its board of governors and 12 regional reserve banks, returning the remainder to the Treasury, where the funds are added to the department’s total receipts.
Fed Haters?  They may be talking about conspiracy theorists, but they are more likely talking about conservatives in general. We don't hate the Fed, but we recognize the behavior outlined in the first paragraph is quite a dangerous game to play, and is part of a larger concern about how much debt the US government is running up.
“If the balance sheet expands further from here, the possibility of a loss becomes more and more real,” said Roberto Perli, a partner at Cornerstone Macro LP in Washington and a former Fed economist.

At the current balance-sheet level, an interest rate of 4.9 percent would be sufficient to wipe out the Fed’s income, according to Perli’s calculations. If the balance sheet grows for another year, the rate that causes interest on reserves to produce a loss falls to 4.3 percent.

“It’s not dangerous yet, but it’s getting there,” said Perli. That’s because, in the longer-run, most Fed officials see their target rate rising to 4 percent.
This shows the "damned if we do, damned if we don't" corner The Fed is painting itself into.  Slowing or stopping its steady $85Billion a month buying of bonds will cause interest rates to rise, and continuing its course will lower the point at which they will begin to lose money. Stopping it now will send the economy into a tailspin and continuing it longer will mean they will, themselves, take a loss at some point in the future.  This is the same fix that China is in, that they will take a loss today if they sell their US T-Bills, but if they hold them they stand a better than 50-50 chance of taking a bigger loss in the future. But they can't bring themselves to the truth that they need to take the loss today.  (China does seem, however, to be a little honest on this course of action and are slowly divesting themselves of US T-Bills.)
Economists expect quantitative easing to go on for longer. The Fed won’t begin tapering its bond buying until March and will continue purchasing securities until October, according to the median estimate of 40 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey last month.

“The right way to think about it is -- what were the economic gains or benefits associated with the way the Fed manages the portfolio?” said Robert Shapiro, chief executive officer of Sonecon LLC, an economic advisory firm in Washington.

“Congress will ask about all these losses, if taxpayers will be on the hook? Well, taxpayers are on the hook for interest payments that rise with other interest rates, but that’s always the case,” said Shapiro, a former Commerce Department official under President Bill Clinton.

“Will they demand an accounting from Janet Yellen?” he said, referring to the Fed vice chairman, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Bernanke when his term ends Jan. 31. “They certainly could.”
No, they won't.  If things go well, this crisis will last longer than her term in office, and if things go badly, the taxpayers will be too busy trying just to stay alive to ask for an accounting of how we got into this mess.

Back to the Economy outside of The Fed.

Last month I said "the economy actually got measurably worse instead, with an increase of only 148k jobs (remember, we need 175k-200k to tread water)" but when I looked again, private sector jobs only increased 126k (revised to 150k), meaning the government grew by 22k jobs (the revisions don't really change this) in the month prior to the shutdown.  I also mentioned manufacturing was flat for the year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a gain for Sep of only 2k(revised to 4k) jobs, which was essentially flat. 

My current forecasts are that the economy will grow at a modest pace from now till the end of 2014.  I have been forecasting that for the past few months and I see nothing in these numbers to make me change my mind.  Sometime beyond the end of 2014 (it may happen before that time, end of 2014 is just what it looks like to me) the economy will undergo a contraction, and it is likely to be a contraction of enormous consequences.  My current plan, and what I advise my friends to do, is to make money in this upswing, while making plans to deal with the disaster that lies ahead.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is this just another false start?


Dept of Labor was supposed to publish their monthly payroll report on the 5th.  Now that they seem to have suspended their tantrum, and are no longer spending money to deliberately inflict pain on the citizenry, they got around to actually doing their job.

Seeking Alpa notes that the numbers are not good. The consensus was that we should be treading water, but the economy actually got measurably worse instead, with an increase of only 148k jobs (remember, we need 175k-200k to tread water).

And in Manufacturing the numbers are dismal as well, as manufacturing employment remained flat (total growth for the past 12 months is about 30-40k, instead of the 180-240k we need). 

The trade balance for the past year shows we are still losing money by consuming more as a nation than we create (hey, that would be a Keynesian dream, and would fix the economy, if Keynesians weren't full of horse hocky), to the tune of near $400B a year.  Reported plans for reducing the Fed's Quantitative Easing seem to have evaporated with this report, and the situation in other countries isn't any better, and there is talk that this economic up cycle (the one I predict will last maybe though the end of next year) might be just another false start.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Next Government Budget Battle

Will be over the debt ceiling.   And it began about two weeks ago. Both Democrats and liberal Republicans (RINO's, anyone?) believe we need to just raise it indefinitely.  So that we can continue to spend and "not default on our debts."

Think about it.  If you maxed out your credit cards, then called one bank and said they HAVE to raise your limit, so you can use it to buy stuff, and oh, yeah, pay the minimum payment on the other card, how would that fly?

But that is what we are doing.

In the mean time Obama's proposed solution:  "give me everything I want, and then I will negociate what more I will take from you, in addition to that."
Before the meeting, Obama had told CNBC that he wasn’t in any mood to negotiate on what he considers to be core responsibilities of Congress and will talk about other issues once the government is open and the debt-limit increase is secured.
“Until we get that done,” Obama said, “we are not going to engage in a series of negotiations.”
There is a plan to just simply "suspend" our debt ceiling for the next year.
Oh, right.
 Like giving a drunken sailor on shore leave an unlimited credit card.
What could possibly go wrong. 

The expected result is another 1100 Billion in debt in the next year. For a total of 17,700 Billion in debt.

Sooner of later the chickens will come home to roost.

Maybe in the form of hyperinflation.

But it could be something else.
We will just have to wait and see.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Government Shutdown and the Economy

Friday morning about 8:30, the Dept of Labor was supposed to publish their monthly payroll report.  This, in my opinion, is the most important data the government publishes on the performance of the US economy.

Instead, the DoL was silent, and money was spent barricading off parks and memorials, many of which would normally be free and accessible to the public. In other words, they spent more money on them, for the sole purpose of creating an inconvenience to the public.  This spending of taxpayer money for the purpose of annoying the public was, of course, vengeance against people who think the government spends money on things it should not.

No matter. Commercial elements that study the economy for the purpose of, themselves, making money, tell us the payroll report would indicate we are still treading water.  Because business continues to become more and more efficient, the US economy, as a whole is gaining, so we are in a sort of up cycle.

As I indicated in last month's post, we can expect this upcycle to last about 18 months, more or less, and begin to collapse on itself again sometime around the end of 2014.  This is kinda bad news for the Republicans and other fiscal conservatives, since, if they win the election in 2014, and take office in Jan 2015, they will be there to blame when we go into a downcycle in 2015 and 2016. 

Well, more on this later.

Monday, August 26, 2013

So, the economy is in an upswing?

So, the economy is in an upswing.  How much of an upswing can we expect?  How good will times get? and how long will it last?  What will the next recession look like? 

I think this next upturn in the economy is not likely to last long and is likely to be followed by a dramatic down turn, much like the one we experienced in 2008. Here is how I arrive at that conclusion.

In 1983, we experienced an upturn in the economy.  Conservative thinking largely replaced liberalism for a couple of years and we got on this kick making things happen.   In the years prior to that, the unemployment rate was over 10% and there was inflation.  The media began talking about what was known as the misery index (unemployment + inflation). 

Over the next couple of years, the unemployment rate fell to around 4% and manufacturing trended upwards.  This was also the beginnings of the desktop computer revolution, although it was mainly a lot of hobbyists and a few businesses. The economy hummed along pretty well for about 7 years.

Then there was a down turn that lasted about 3 years, it was pretty shallow, causing unemployment to rise to around 6% or 7%, but the beginnings of it led to the election of Clinton as our country turned to liberalism. 

After a few years, in 94, the conservatives took office in both the House and Senate (this was Newt Gingrich and his "Contract with America"), and a more conservative direction was again pursued. This resulted in an upturn that lasted about 6 years, brought unemployment down to around 6% and even brought about a (nearly) balanced budget. 

George W Bush was elected, but by then the Republican party had forgotten its Contract with America and was slowly drifting back to "middle" ground, where they thought popular consent was.

The collapse of the "dot com bubble" and the 9-11 attacks threw us back into a recession, but at the same time brought out some conservative values.  This brought us out of the recession, and despite "W" being a somewhat weak conservative, his handling of the fight against Islamic Extremists assured him of a reelection. We got a weak upturn of the economy for about 3 or 4 years. 

The government leaned back to the left, pushing a strong housing market beyond reasonable limits, as a pretense that the economy was getting better (even though its underpinnings were actually weakening), by pushing a lot of extra cash into the markets through extremely irrational mortgage policies. No down payment, no credit check, and no payments required on the principle were pushed as ways to get those who could not afford a house into a house they could not afford.

A large portion of the people, though became disenchanted with the Republicans In Name Only that were currently running congress and in 2006 congressional election a lot of RINO's got replaced by Democrats. The next three budgets were disastrously liberal.

The economy, and the financial markets, and even the banking industry (which had hollowed itself out by retaining less and less capital on hand), all collapsed at once. 

The result was the Fed had to do a secret bailout of all the world's banks (to the tune of about 16,000 billion dollars), while the governments around the world propped up the markets through giveaways and other "recapitalization" programs.

These actions prevented the entire world economy from an outright catastrophic collapse, but they took us down a deep, 5 year long recession, that is now known as the "Great Recession." As little as a year ago, because of the weakness that still exists in the foundations of our economy, some economists were predicting that it would be as long as 5 more years before we would begin to see real improvement in the economy. 

What they didn't count on was a bumper crop of oil and gas drilling on private land and in Canada, and China and Russia jumping into the game of printing money (they are trading that fiat money for copper, aluminum and coal, as we speak).  Thus a stimulus that we didn't expect brought us an upturn in the current economy. (Thee is a lot between the lines in this paragraph, but would require a whole article to go into the details of why the current Russian and Chinese behaviors are actually a time bomb for us.)

Conclusion.  So here we are, and let's summarize.  The upsides have been 7 years and strong, 6 years and moderate, and 3 or 4 years and weak.  The downturns have been 3 years, 4 years, and a deep 6 year recession.

So here we are, the economy is in an upswing.  How much of an upswing can we expect?  How good will times get? and how long will it last?  What will the next recession look like?

I believe we will have about 18 months of good economy, but since we are no longer a manufacturing powerhouse, the whole thing is hollow.  It is like building a bridge out over a canyon with no support.  No one really knows when or how badly it will fail, we only know it will.  But we can guess. 

Beyond 18 months, with nothing to support the economy, the system will begin again to decapitalise. It is already extraordinarily weak, with capitalization of banks in the single digit percentages, retirement plans are only 15 to 30 percent funded (and the baby boomers retiring in droves) and most businesses so weak that an interruption of less than 48 hours will cause the business to collapse (in the financial world, this is known as mean time to belly up). In addition, we are building a new housing bubble and there is still, in addition to the official unemployment rate, about 8% of our people that are out of work but not counted as unemployed.

There are those who say we have weathered storms like this before.  The truth is, no, there has never been an economic storm like the one that is ahead of us.  Our nation has been sold for bread and circuses.

So yes, the next "downturn" of the economy could be complete destruction of our civilization.  While this isn't necessary, it could happen if, as happened last time, the economy, the markets, and the banks all drop at once.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A return to blogging - the Economy

Well, I have been away from this blog for some time, but now I think I will post some updates on economics and a few assorted other subjects.

In the past couple of years there have been a series of financial crisis in Europe and the US, most of which have twin roots going back to the worldwide financial collapse of 2008.  At least 5 countries in Europe required bail outs. The most notable were Greece (which required $10B and bondholders got stuck with bonds worth 30% of face value)and Cypress (which cause a panic that closed the banks for weeks).

In the US, Stockton California and Detroit come to mind as having declared bankruptcy, although there have been a lot of small ones too. 

The "Fed," over the past several years has injected money into the world financial systems at the rate of nearly $1000B dollars a year for almost all of the past 5 years, and while there is talk of slowing down the injection of money, there is no talk of ending it.  We don't know when inflation will kick in, but about 1/3 of the total US Federal budget is now made up of borrowed money.  This has hidden what would have been a spiraling deflation that would have been ruinous to the country, but it is still ruinous to the nation.  Most of the working class today makes about $2 an hour less than they did 5 years ago, if they have a job at all.  The official unemployment rate is totally bogus, the real rate is about 20%.  If you don't see that where you live, you are fortunate.  Detroit is not fortunate.

This year, people learned a new word.  Sequester.  That is where you keep spending more and more on your entertainment budget, but in order to pretend to save money, you don't put gas in your truck (so now you can't go to work). 

A word no one has learned has cropped up in certain small circles of the "learned." Catabolic collapse.
It basically refers to the tendency of a civilization to build infrastructure until it cannot sustain the effort to maintain that infrastructure.

Our financial structure is a house of cards.  Monetary bubbles upon monetary bubbles.  If it collapses slowly, it will simply leave multiple generations, starting with the oldest, in financial ruin.  It will go from generation to generation, bankrupting millions of people until there is only the miserable poor and the very upper class.

If it collapses suddenly, it will erupt into violence and civil war with no clear cut battle lines and no winners.  It will evolve into anarchy and chaos.  Will we ever emerge?  Many think so, most preppers think so.  I don't really think so.

Well, that is all today.  I will write more in the days to come.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Where Is Bible Prophesy Found?

Many, when asked about Biblical Prophesy, turn immediately to Revelation (I have had one or two turn immediately to sources outside the Bible). Or maybe to Matthew or Luke.  But, as I have said before, Prophesy is found in nearly every book of the Bible, and to really understand prophesy, you need to have an understanding that encompass all of the Biblical Prophesies, and almost all of them start in the Old Testament.

As a matter of fact, there may be more prophesy in the Book of Daniel than in any other book besides Revelation.  While not as pivotal as Joel, Daniel briefly outlines the kingdoms to come on Earth from his
own day until the Second Coming of Christ. In these prophesies, we are in the ten toes of the kingdom
of iron mixed with clay. 

Joel says an army, the size and fearsomeness never before seen, nor will there every be seen again, attacks Israel out of the North.  While he is talking, in the short term, of the Assyrian Army, led by General Sennacherib. But the reality fits the prophesy, only partially.  He describes an army of, (to my mind), helicopters, making a noise in the mountain tops.  This prophesy is expanded on, in Ezekiel 38, to show that in some future day, Russia and Persia will come from the North with an Army of amazing size, attempting to plunder the wealth of Israel. 

This is the War of Gog and Magog that many in prophesy circles have been talking about for the past several decades.  But if you look closely, there are parts of this prophesy that are not yet ready to come to pass.  Israel is not yet a nation of unwalled cities, with wealth and security to live in peace among its neighbors.  There has to be something that happens before. 

Another war is found In prophecy, in Psalms 83.  Many didn't realize, until recently, that Psalm 83 is a prophesy of a war to come.  It talks of the destruction of Damascus.  A destruction that will leave the city uninhabitable.  Well there have been wars there, but none have left the city uninhabitable.  This is still in the future.  Right now, the governments in that region are playing with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons that may finish this prophesy, and indeed leave that city in ruin.

I do have to point out though, that at least one prophesy author I read regularly says 'no way will
the Psalm 83 war come within the next several months.'  I will have to look closer at why he says that.

You must have a foundational knowledge of the Bible, in order to truly understand the Revelation.

Most people, and even many Christians, have no foundation knowledge with which to understand it.  Also, those who capitalize on ignorance of prophesy seek to obfuscate the meaning of much of Revelation. Nothing has really changed, as 2nd Peter and Jude both warn about those who will sneak into the Church (the wording used is like "through the side door") and Jesus said there would be false Gospels preached, until the workers (angels) come at the harvest and throw the false teachers into the fire.

As a very basic introduction to Revelation, the first three chapters can be thought of as history (actually we are in the last half of chapter 3) and from chapter 4 vs 1 onward, can be thought of as future.

Often, however, I will refer to chapters 6 and 7, when discussing current events.  This is because I believe God will allow small versions of those things to happen in our day, as a warning of what is to come. These are precursors, or foreshadowing of future events.

The events I am referring to are the generically known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, although there are actually seven seals to be opened, and the "Four Horsemen are just the beginning.  They begin (he went out to conquer) with a conventional War.  Then to a general lack of peace anywhere on the Earth, with people killing one another (this or its precursor may be Islam, with a symbol of a great sword), and moves on to famine.  In any situation where there is a general breakdown of civilization, there will be damage to agriculture, as has been happening anywhere Islam (and sometimes communism) exerts itself.

I should note here that while there is a lot of disagreement over the exact interpretation of "do not harm the oil and the wine," the only disagreement over the interpretation of the rest of verse 6 is due to ignorance of what the verse actually says. "A quart of wheat" is enough food to feed one laborer for one day.  And a "denarious" is one day's pay for a laborer.

Today, the world sees local famines here and there, almost always caused by political strife, but in the not too distant future, there will be general shortages of food around the world.  Then we will see something like what this verse describes.

I often have people ask me if some disaster or another is the beginning of the end, and I tell them, "No. When you begin to see disasters that kill over a million people at a time, then you might be seeing the end."  In reality, God is not required to give us any warnings, but in the past He sent warnings before destroying one nation or another, so I would expect He will follow the same pattern today.

The Forth Horseman (pale horse, is literally the color of dead flesh) is death, or more accurately, he has with him, Death and Hades (literally, the grave).  He is to kill one forth of the earth's population.  Currently that means he will kill well over a billion people. And if our understanding of the Great Tribulation timeline is correct, this will happen across a period of a few months.

And while these things are beginning, a dictatorial government and a religion rise up to enslave all of mankind.  The religious leader and the head of the government will do great things that will deceive almost everyone into believing they are worthy of worship.  All of mankind are told they must worship this government and this religion, or they will not be able to buy or sell.  Much like our socialist insecurity system today, but with the addition that they will actively hunt down and kill anyone defying them.

And then things get bad. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Prepping, if done right, is Politically Incorrect

While it can be shown, logically, that being a prepper is a responsible and mature response to the realities of this world, "sadly, it appears that being a 'prepper' is now enough to get special attention from the authorities."  That quote and the following excerpt are from an article on World View Weekend.
(about halfway through the article)
Why are preppers hated so much
On Thursday last week, no less than 150 armed and militarized police and FBI agents in he guise of tactical assault teams descended on Porter's house as if they were confronting a terrorist cell. The raid also included helicopters, SWAT crews, armored vehicles and even excavation equipment.

Porter was absent at the time of the raid but turned himself in the next morning at Hagerstown Barrack.

After the raid, the claim that Porter was stockpiling "10-15 machine gun-style firearms" was demolished when police uncovered "four shotguns, a .30-30-caliber rifle and two .22-caliber rifles," hardly a deadly mass arsenal.

Would 150 officers have shown up at his home if he had not been identified as a "prepper"?

Of course not.

So why are preppers hated so much?

It is because they are a direct challenge to the status quo. Just by prepping, preppers are proclaiming that they do not have faith in the system. But most people have complete and total faith in the system, and many of them do not like to have that faith questioned.

All of this, I would say leads to the conclusion that OPSEC is the order of the day. Be careful who you talk to about preparations and under no circumstances allow yourself, personally, to be exposed on TV or radio.

Possible Scenarios - or - What Could Possibly Go Wrong...

There are, basically, three primary things that could go wrong in the US.  These are the things we prepare for. Loss of transportation, loss of electric power, and civil unrest. (If you can think of anything else, let me know)

Generally, these things are not root causes.  An Epidemic or Midwest Earthquake could shut down transportation.   A Solar storm, major hurricane or nuclear detonation could shut down the electric power grid.  Some portions of the government are currently trying to precipitate civil unrest, to be used as a pretext to their tyrannical desires. They could succeed, or ethnic insanity could simply get out of hand, or some disaster could cause civil unrest.

The end result is pretty much the same.  Those who are prepared will have it much better than those who are not.

God told the Church that He would spare them from the last hour of tribulation (and in truth, the idea that someone can prepare for that is laughable). But history shows that God will not spare His people from the little tribulations that occur along the way. In the past, there have been economic disasters, weather disasters, volcanoes, earthquakes, wars, famines, pandemics, and pestilences. In many cases, Christians (and Jews) did better than others, and in a few cases they fared worse. In Proverbs 6, the Bible tells us to "consider the ant" and in Luke 25:32-38 Jesus told His disciples that after He departed from them, to keep a sword and a purse (a weapon and money).
Food for thought (or "more ramblings") about
Considerations that we may have previously overlooked

Much of what we are stockpiling has an expiration date, and much of what is written about prepping has to do with getting started, or the end game.  What if we don't see the end game for several years?

We (especially those of us, like me, past the halfway point in life) need to be thinking beyond ourselves.  What if our preps outlive us?  What if the SHTF and our friends, neighbors, relatives, or kids need our help?  Charity cannot be forgotten.  Sometimes, in a crisis, you might have to help a stranger, even if it is passing food or water across a fence or other defensive fortification, so that they have a chance to live too. (You might want to remember this expression, Ask and you shall receive, but you loot, and we shoot.)

I highly recommend anyone stockpiling to do their storage planning and inventories early, and to include expiration planning on everything they store.  The main difference between a prepper and a hoarder, is their inventory control.  The prepper knows what he has, why, and how long it is good for.

Some guy named Selco writes for a SHTF School.  One of the things he says about Americans is we place too much emphasis on beans, not enough on band-aids.  Of course, his being a medic by trade may have something to do with it, or the fact that he saw people die from run of the mill infections, during the Siege of Sarajevo (1992).

Unless you can cover yourself for extended periods of unemployment, in conjunction with unemployment of friends or family, you need to keep a reverse strategy in mind for any preps you put money into.  This means knowing where you can sell silver or ammo, and knowing which food you can eat first, to save on groceries while unemployed.

If someone is talking about the "end of fiat currency" and that after the meltdown we will "go back to using gold and silver" to trade with, forget listening to them.  Any and all currency is only worth something if someone is willing to take it in exchange for food, shelter or clothing. That includes gold or silver.  Selco (see above) said that during the Siege, the only thing gold would get you is killed.  What did they use for currency?  Canned food, especially corned beef, and small bottles of liquor were common. Cigarettes, and various niceties that you take for granted every day.

In the years after a collapse, if things ever return to "normal," there will again be currency.  If you make it to then.  But in the years of the collapse, materials and skills needed to live day to day will be the currency.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eccuminisism is Oppression in a Pretty Dress

Once upon a time, the word "eccuminical" might have had a good meaning, but no more.  Today, the word is code for making all religions equal and equally worthless. This is the job of the World Council on Churches. This is the same line of thought that preaches and practices moral relativity and is part of the New World Order. 

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is launching an attack on the U.S. Constitution.
The current issue of ISNA’s bi-monthly magazine Islamic Horizons carries an article about ISNA’s demand for gun control.
Nor is the Second Amendment the only constitutional freedom under assault by ISNA and its leaders.
As reported by Neil Munro at the Daily Caller back in October, a group of representatives from many of the Obama administration’s favored Islamist groups met with Tom Perez, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
During the meeting, the Muslim leaders, including those from ISNA, called for a redefinition of anti-discrimination laws to punish criticism of Islam
Magid asked Perez to change the federal government’s rules governing terror  investigations,  for more private meetings with top justice department officials, for the reeducation of FBI agents, and for more people to oppose criticism of Islam, which he labeled “religious bigotry and hate.”
In a related court order by the federal judge hearing the case later unsealed, Judge Jorge Solis ruled that there was “ample evidence” that ISNA and other U.S. Islamic groups had acted in support of Hamas.
As noted by The Truth About Guns in February 2011, ISNA was one of the original founding groups of the “Faiths United to Oppose Gun Violence” when it was rolled out by the Brady Center.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Beginnings of Prepping

In the "Preppers" series on NatGeo, most of the preppers there are prepping for one scenario or another.   It is always good to have some scenario in mind, to give yourself a foundation for brainstorming.  (Hmmm, if "this" happens, then I will need what?)

I have seen exactly one who said he was prepping for anything unexpected that might come along.  The bottom line, though, is that most of them are prepping for some disaster that probably will  never come, and the primary focus of the NatGeo video seems to be to make them look like a nut job. Never mind that prepping for any scenario will make surviving any other scenario more likely.

Myself, I use an extended electrical power outage as my baseline.  In my area, gas pumps would not work, the cash registers and other stuff at all the supermarkets would not work, city gas would go out in a few days, and it would not be too long before people would be roaming the streets looking for something to take home. 

Right now, nothing is looking like it will happen in the next few months, but remember, prepping is something you do when there is no threat. (And that automatically makes you some kind of nut job.)

At an influenza related blog
I found some ethical advice that mirrors some of why I first started prepping.
 . . .  individuals and families who can afford it should do their best to prepare for any disaster. The paper notes, the more initiative the general public exercises in stockpiling several weeks' worth of food, water, paper goods, batteries medicines, and other needed supplies, the less vulnerable they will be to a break in the supply chain.

It is important for leaders to communicate to the middle class and the wealthy that it is their responsibility to prepare for self-sufficiency in order to free up scarce supplies and allow first responders to direct their attention towards those too poor or vulnerable to prepare themselves.
The Smallest Ideas.  Buy what you use but just buy it ahead of when you need it. Pick something different each month, especially if it is "on sale" and buy a case of it.
(I call this micro prepping)

Buy cotton goods now, for future use.  Cotton, and most cotton goods are at the lowest prices they have been in years.  And they are not likely to go any lower, but will probably see many years of higher prices.

Gold won't be of any use in a real shtf scenario, I remember one guy who lived through a real long term disaster, and he said gold would get you nothing worthwhile, but it would probably get you killed.

When I first began prepping, it was sort of half hazard.  I wrote a bug out plan, I stored some water, and some food.  Some medicine.  I acquired some battery powered radios.  As time went by, I realized I needed to make the plan more well thought out, so I broke my planning system into five areas of thought.

1  writing a system of plans
2  material acquisitions
3  developing a plan for staying informed after disaster 
4  determining what can be used as trading stock during or after a disaster
5  Shopping lists

At this point I started browsing web sites and forums to gather ideas and began to write out all of my plans and procedures and add some friends into the planning and preparing.  So far, the cooperation isn't working too well because most of my friends are either way ahead of me, or way behind. 

The lesson here, though, is that prepping isn't something done in a week or a year, it is a road we either travel on, or we don't.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Coming Famines and Epidemics

In the past, everyone worried about how much oil or other forms of energy (primarily fossil fuels) would be available from the earth.  This is no longer a worry, but there is the question of whether the governments of the earth will allow us to have it.  The technology and known resources exist to sustain us for at least 40 years.  And at a pretty reasonable cost (not like we remember it, but not bad). 

The real problem will be food.

The world population has just hit the 7 billion person mark, up from 6 billion twelve years ago. The world adds 75 million each year.  Back around twelve years ago, someone asked me how many people I thought  the world could support, and I told them about 1 or 2 billion.  They said I was wrong, as the world already had 6 billion.  I just smiled at them and walked away.  I don't think they got it.  Our days were numbered, even then.  At this point, I think maybe 3 billion, but no where near 7 billion. Anyone remember "Soylant Green"?  Now would be a good time to take another look at that movie.  It isn't far off.

Currently there is plenty of food, and only scattered reports of famine along a line from Congo to Indonesia.  This could be deceptive, as there isn't much food in the pipeline and none in any kind of stockpile or warehousing system.   Some of the stuff I have studied says that when the stock levels (most of which is at distribution points or on trucks) drops below a critical point, where people will pay almost any price for it, the price spikes up rapidly.  It isn't a smooth curve, and before it gets critical, there is very little movement in price. (For more information, there is a link in the "link farm section of this blog.)

Another thing about higher population density is that epidemics will spread much more readily through densely populated areas.  This has happened before, with the loss of more than 25% of the world population in less than a century.  And that was without jet airplanes.  Today it could happen in just a couple years.

In the near future I hope to discuss the consequences and complications of high population densities across the planet, which I think will eventually culminate in the third and Fourth Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The recent strain of influenza made its way through our population at a fairly high rate seems to be dying out. It spread at major epidemic levels that would have had schools closing during the 2009 pandemic. This level of spread normally goes on for a few weeks, until the number of easily infected people begins to be reduced.  Once there are fewer easy hosts, the epidemic dies out quickly.

In addition, there seems to be some evidence that there are more people, than in the past, who just don't react to the shots by building the expected level of immune response.  This is a disturbing trend, meaning that either the current vaccines are flawed, or like antibiotics, the end of the vaccine age is upon us. 

I wrote about the epidemic of 2009, as it spread into the US.  Within days and lasting for a few weeks there was panic and people would beg, borrow and steal to get the vaccine.  Two weeks later, as the news cycle progressed and people weren't dying in the streets, the panic turned almost instantly into complacency, and they couldn't even give the vaccine away.  The epidemic went on for a few more weeks after that, and even returned the following school year, but without the panic.  Of course, part of the problem was that media whipped the people into a panic.  Another part of the problem was that politicians were using the anxiety for their own political purposes.  (Don't believe in each other, or in God.   Believe in big government.)

One of the things that I said during that pandemic still is true:
There will be other pandemics, and some of the things that could be learned from this one could be useful in the next one.

First, you need to prepare for a pandemic before it gets much news attention. Maybe before the first case. Do the simple stuff, have some extra soap and other supplies on hand. Get in the habit of washing your hands every time you come into your house from any public place. 

Good links for background.
Current info for this article found here:

Then my older blog entries.
The May 4 2009 and October 25 2009 articles are especially good.

The May 4th artical links to this through the words "pandemic panic"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How does Bible Prophesy impact our future?

I began an experiment some months ago.  There are some things I cannot write in an open blog such as this, and I thought I would begin a private newsletter to see if some of my more trusted friends (about half dozen of them) would want to discuss them.   Well, it was to begin as e-mail, and then move to something more private, but it didn't work out, so a majority of what was in those letters will appear here, as I begin to bring this blog back on line for yet another year.

The letter was to discuss a mix of Biblical Prophesy and stuff I have learned from Prepper forums, and be in the form of a newsletter.  The only glitch is I would need feed back to keep it going, and I got none. 

So, my first remark about prophesy is this:
I must emphasize that the events of the future that I discuss in here have no date attached to them.  Anyone who says they know when these things will happen is working for Satan, and not for God.  I like to say they will "most likely" happen between two and twenty years from now, but they could happen before the next issue of this newsletter reaches you.  When God addressed Israel, He always told them when things would happen, but for the Church, He told us to "watch always."  He said we would see the signs, like "the olive tree puts forth its leaves in early summer," but would not know the day or the hour (not even the angles know).

For those steeped in Biblical knowledge, most of what I say in this section will not be much news at all.  Still, there might be a tidbit here and there. 

Almost every book in the Bible contains some elements of prophesy.  In distant past times, much of Scripture was looked at piecemeal, and Israel was not a physical country, so it is no wonder almost no one understood the Biblical prophesies about the end times.  There were a few, however.  In the early 19th century a coherent theology of pretrib understanding was published.  It was, of course, ridiculed.  Even today some people look at Israel and pretend it does not exist.

Most people, when asked about Bible Prophesy, turn to the book of the Revelation.  Well, that is where Bible Prophesy ends.  As I pointed out in the previous newsletter, Bible Prophesy is found in just about every book in the Bible.  For the centerpiece, though, of Bible Prophesy should look at the major and minor prophets in the Old Testament. And which of these wrote first?  Well, that would be Joel. Why the books here are not arranged in chronological order is beyond me (and more importantly, beyond the scope of this letter), but they are not.  By looking at the historical events mentioned in the various books, they can be placed in order, and Joel is earlier than the others.  Now that we have that understood there is one more little piece to understand, and it is found in Genesis chapter one. 

Recall, there, that the phrase "and the evening and the morning were the (number) day.  This is one major key, that is, the day in the Hebrew Bible always begins at dusk, or in darkness. Now the statement Joel makes, (and several prophets after him) makes sense. 

Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near,  a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. - Joel 2:1,2

His prophesy was true on two levels.  First, on the local level, they had just been invaded by a locust army and he prophesied they would be invaded by armies out of the North, from Syria and Assyria. His prophesy deals with the invading army, and how it will resemble the locust invasion.   Had he not been correct about this, you would have never heard about him, as they killed any prophet whose prophesies didn't come true.

Then, on another level (which we will hear about in other books) this prophesy is expanded into an invasion in the future.  Our future, not too distant.  No, I don't know how many years, but we understand it will be a modern army of enormous size.  

While most of those found in churches in the US think things will go along much as they always have, and many think things will get better, I can tell you that this is not so.  The US will deteriorate, until it is no more than a third world kind of nation and the Rapture will come.  We don't know which will happen first, nor do we know how many years there might be between the two events.  We only know they will both happen.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Treading water, or slowly sinking

This past month the labor market has been slowly sinking on most indicators.  A couple of bright spots are number of hours worked and pay, and the increase in Manufacturing jobs. Over the past year, the US has, at times reached the point were it was treading water, but overall for the year it has slowly lost ground, and is slowly sinking.

For all the talk of taxes in the last minute "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations, it really is spending that is killing us.  And our national debt.  Despite all the bad economic news, however, I think we will continue to tread water for another year.  Some time beyond that, though, I think we will probably sink.

This is a link to today's Bloomberg News report where I got the labor numbers, and some clippings I pulled from it.


Payrolls rose by 155,000 workers last month following a 161,000 advance in November, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. 
“By the second quarter, we could see the pace of payrolls at 175,000 to 200,000,” provided the debt-ceiling debate is resolved, said Price 
Other reports today showed service industries, which account for almost 90 percent of the economy, grew in December at the fastest pace in 10 months, and demand for capital equipment such as machinery and communications gear picked up in November.  
The news elsewhere was less positive. U.K. services unexpectedly shrank in December for the first time in two years, clouding the economic outlook as Britain struggles to avoid a recession, figures from Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply showed today in London.  
For all of 2012, the economy created 1.84 million jobs, matching the gain in 2011. It’s the best back-to-back reading since 2005-2006.  
Nonetheless, the increases probably don’t satisfy Federal Reserve policy makers, who last month said they will keep pumping money into the economy until the job market improves “substantially.” (200k jobs per month)  
Central bankers on Dec. 12 expanded a third round of so- called quantitative easing and said they would hold their target interest rate low “at least as long” as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5 percent and inflation projections are for no more than 2.5 percent.  
Today’s report also showed hourly earnings climbed 0.3 percent on average in December for a second month to $23.73, beating the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg that called for a 0.2 percent increase. They rose 2.1 percent from December 2011, the biggest gain in a year. Additionally, the work week climbed six minutes to 34.5 hours.  
Factory payrolls increased by 25,000, the most since March, today’s report showed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What Child is This

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. -Luke 2.

Lying in a manger?
Where else would you expect a Lamb to be born?

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering - Genisis 22
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. - Revelation 5

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another Month Deeper into Recession

Another month has come and gone, and we are a little deeper in recession.  Jobs in the private sector increased by less than 200k and jobs in the manufacturing sector actually decreased. Obama continues to tell us about all the millions and millions of jobs he is responsible for creating but that is just another political lie. As we slide closer to the fiscal cliff, it has become apparent that he will not negotiate to avoid going over the cliff. (And no compromise will stop it anyway, but that is another story) His supposed compromise solution had hidden in it that he could spend as much as he wants, whenever he wants, and for whatever he wants.

Yeah Right.

Tax levies are almost irrelevant in this (fiscal cliff) deal.  They are a symbolic gesture, and increasing them will give the government an excuse to be even more irresponsible, but cutting them won't solve the problem either.It makes little difference if a dollar is taxed out of the economy, or if it is borrowed and never returned.

And that is where the US is.  The budget will never again be balanced. That is a cliff we have already gone over (years ago, to be truthful).  Now the question is only: how soon will it get bad, and how bad will it get?  (and I don't really know the answers)

Spending cuts and changes to "entitlement" programs will slow the descent , but they won't stop it.  Now we are only concerned with how will America look on the way down.

Will we retain our Freedoms, our Rights as given by God, our Constitutional Government?   Or will we be transformed into a communist dictatorship harkening to the liberals who want to destroy us and the Islamists that want to enslave us? Will the rule o f law rule our land, or will international bankers and multinational corporations and unions run our government as a puppet as they steal all we have while operating above the law?  

Fasten your seatbelts, hold on tight, keep your Bible handy and your powder dry.
It is going to be a terrifying ride down.