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Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Submitted by Roanman on Sun, 04/03/2011 - 07:57


The official, published chart for the Consumer's Price Index located on page 5 of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Detailed Report for January 2011" looks as follows.

"Core Inflation" as they like to call it is running at about 1.5%.

  That's not so terrible.

I personally would like to see it at 0% or even negative, but what the hell do I know?

Except, as many of us know, "Core CPI" doesn't include food and fuel.

Hmmm ..... I'm thinking government economists must not eat or drive.



The other day at the facebook page for this site, someone plugged John Williams' outstanding site, Shadow Government Statistics.

Despite the fact that we've known about this site for a long time, we've never really explored it thoroughly, mostly because so many of the people that we read, are reading it for us.

Once again, big mistake.

Anyway, to begin with the primers are free, mostly 12-15 paragraphs, easy to read and enormously worthwhile.

The following short excepts from Mr. Williams' primer on the Consumer Price Index offer some insight into the hows and whys of those items and calculations that do go into the CPI, and in so doing go a long way toward explaining how it is that government economists neither eat nor drive.


Inflation, as reported by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is understated by roughly 7% per year. This is due to recent redefinitions of the series as well as to flawed methodologies, particularly adjustments to price measures for quality changes.

The CPI was designed to help businesses, individuals and the government adjust their financial planning and considerations for the impact of inflation. The CPI worked reasonably well for those purposes into the early-1980s.

In recent decades, however, the reporting system increasingly succumbed to pressures from miscreant politicians, who were and are intent upon stealing income from social security recipients, without ever taking the issue of reduced entitlement payments before the public or Congress for approval.

In particular, changes made in CPI methodology during the Clinton Administration understated inflation significantly, and, through a cumulative effect with earlier changes that began in the late-Carter and early Reagan Administrations have reduced current social security payments by roughly half from where they would have been otherwise.

That means Social Security checks today would be about double had the various changes not been made.



As always, click on the above chart to link up to the entire piece.

Way, super double, highly recommended.


Effect and Cause

Submitted by Roanman on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 13:16


We've got good news and bad news for you today ladies and gentlemen.

As always clicking on the charts will take you someplace really, really interesting.

First the good news.



Then the bad news.



The above, as stated previously, being resultant of the following real, real bad news.



Which of course brings us to the extremely, exceptionally bad news.

Especially if you happen to be one of those people who work and save their money.



Bye the way, we're still over here trying to figure out the FED ............. seriously.


Two charts from Richard Russell

Submitted by Roanman on Fri, 10/15/2010 - 08:08


As previously disclosed, for many years, I've read people who have been reading Richard Russell for many years.

When what I should have been doing was reading Richard Russell.

Along with Harry Schultz and Joe Granville he clearly is one of the grand old men of the financial newsletter business.

Despite the fact that Mr. Russell is now 86 and significantly less hail than he used to be, I just dropped another $175 for a 6 month subscription to his newsletter, the Dow Theory Letter, despite the disclaimer at the bottom of the offering that reads something to the effect that, "You know Richard is 86 years old, Right?  Ain't gonna be no refund.

If it goes just one week, it will have been cheap at twice the price.

The chart below is for DBC, the commodity tracking index offered on the New York Stock exchange.



Richard pulls out some of the items that make up that index immediately below.


 Scoreboard year-to-date in percentages -- Agricultural 

Cattle (lb)....................+12.0%
Coffee (lb)...................+36.9%
Corn (bu).....................+37.3%
Cotton (lb)...................+46.7%
Lumber(1000 bd.ft.)....+32.9%
Orange Juice (lb)..........+19.7%
Soy beans (bu)..............+13.2%
Wheat (bu)....................+29.8%


 With the following commentary


"Trouble -- The poverty sector and the middle class are having trouble enough, but the chart below spells more pain. This is the Commodity chart, and it's telling us that the price of food is heading skyward. With the price of food (corn, grains) heading higher and with oil now over 83, the squeeze is on for the majority of Americans.

The US is floating in liquidity. And nobody knows what to do with it. Which is one reason why stocks have been floating higher. Should you buy farm land, housing, commodities, silver, bonds, gold, insurance, what? There's no safe return on anything."


Here's Mr. Russell's latest writing on Gold.


  Around 1999 and 2000 gold was selling at just above 260 an ounce. But more important, many well-known gold shares were selling like second-hand rain coats. These formerly much-loved gold shares were selling at such low or bargain prices that I thought one could buy thousands of shares and just "put 'em away" and forget about them. I knew gold wasn't going out of style, and it was just a matter of time before interest in gold returned, as it has in all history.

Great bull markets start with stocks selling "below known values." That's where gold mining shares were selling around 1999 and 2000. I equated gold shares in the year 2000 with the Dow in June 1999 at a time when the Dow was priced at 161. In the year 2000, I thought to myself, "Could this be the very beginning of a great bull market in gold, a bull market that could ultimately take gold above its January 1980 peak price of 850? That idea stuck in my head; in fact I became obsessed with the idea that a great bull market was beginning and very few people even suspected that was happening in gold.

Question -- OK, Russell, gold is now well above its peak price of 850 struck in 1980. So what do you expect next?

Answer -- I went through this same phenomenon in the 1960s with the stock market. We went through the correction of 1953, and we staggered through the vicious correction of 1957. In 1957 a severe recession enveloped the US economy, and almost everybody was convinced that the bull market that had started in 1949 had ended.

I learned from George Schaefer that big bull markets almost always end with a speculative explosion. We had not seen that kind of action in the bull market that started in June, 1949. I was convinced that a speculative third phase of the bull market lay somewhere ahead. For that reason I was convinced that the bull market was not over.

In fact, I was so sure of my stand that I wrote an article that was published in Barron's (December, 1958) in which I made the case for a coming final boom phase in the stock market. That article drew a great amount of interest, and it put me in business. A speculative third phase did appear in the stock market during 1956 through the early '60s.

Today I am taking the same stand regarding the gold bull market. The gold bull market will not end with a fizzle and a whimper. It will end with intense speculation and widespread interest from the funds and the public. We haven't seen that kind of activity yet, but I'm convinced that a period of wild speculation in gold lies somewhere ahead.

This is why I continue to beg my subscribers to load up with gold. As I see it, we are nearing a period of intense speculation that will be beyond anything seen before by the last three generations of Americans. Ironically, more money made in the final explosion in gold than was made during the first two phases combined.

Great bull market are seen maybe once or twice in a lifetime. The current "stealth" gold bull market has sneaked up on most Americans. The very phrase, "gold bull market" is sneered at by most analysts today. In fact, most of the comments on gold today come in the form of warnings; "Gold is too high." "Gold is in a bubble." "Gold will sink back below 1000." "Gold is a fool's play."

Nonsense. Gold is moving ever-closer to it's climactic speculative third phase. The negative comments about gold will only serve to make the gold bull market that much stronger. In this business, there is nothing more powerful than a primary bull market that has been denigrated, spat at, and held back for years.

And that's the end of my "lecture" about the fabulous gold bull market.

Below, the profile of one of history's greatest primary bull markets (and it's not finished yet).


 Either chart will link you up to Richard Russell's fine site.

Super duper way double highly recommended ......... with the previously discussed caveat.


To quote Thomas Wood

Submitted by Roanman on Fri, 10/08/2010 - 09:04


Thomas Wood, author of "Meltdown" provides the clearest explanation I've read of the events that caused the various "bubbles" we have endured over the past 10 years.


"Asset bubbles, like the housing bubble we’ve just lived through, do not occur spontaneously. If people bought lots of houses on the free market, interest rates would rise as the banks’ loanable funds were depleted. That would put an end to speculation in real estate.

But thanks to the Federal Reserve System (or simply the 'Fed'), which is no part of the free market, large infusions of money created out of thin air kept interest rates low, and thus perpetuated the bubble. During an asset bubble, demand for the asset in question rises, as does its price. Where would people get the money to keep buying an increasingly costly asset if the government’s officially approved money machine weren’t there to flood the economy with cash?

It was this interference with interest rates, pushing them well below where the free market would have set them, that set in motion the classic boom-bust cycle we’ve just witnessed. F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize for showing how central banks like the Federal Reserve, by interfering with interest rates and not allowing them to tell entrepreneurs the truth about economic conditions, divert the economy into unsustainable configurations that inevitably come undone in a crash. (Hayek belongs to a tradition of free-market thought called the Austrian School of economics.)

Adding fuel to the fire was the so-called Greenspan put, the unofficial policy of the Greenspan Fed that promised assistance to private firms in the event of risky investments gone bad. What kind of incentives do you suppose that created?" 



The Guidotti-Greenspan Rule

Submitted by Roanman on Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:09


The Guidotti-Greenspan Rule

Named for Pablo Guidotti, former deputy minister of finance for Argentina (that bastion of resposibility in national financing), and Alan Greenspan, increasingly discredited former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of the United States (that other bastion of responsibility in national financing)

States that a countries financial reserves should equal short-term external debt (one-year or less maturity), implying a ratio of reserves-to-short term debt of 1.

The rationale here, is that countries should have enough reserves to resist a massive withdrawal of short term foreign capital.

The U.S. holds gold, oil, and foreign currencies in reserve.

The U.S. has 8,133.5 metric tonnes of gold (supposedly, ain't nobody counted it in generations).

It is the world's largest holder (supposedly, ..... ).

That's 16,267,000 pounds (at the risk of redundancy ....... ).

At about $1,100 per oz. or $17,600 per pound, it's worth just under $300 billion (you know ..... ).

The U.S. strategic petroleum reserve shows a current total position of 725 million barrels of oil.

At about $80 per barrel, that's roughly $58 billion.

And according to the IMF, the U.S. has $136 billion in foreign currency reserves.

So altogether... that's around $500 billion of reserves.

Now, consider this .............

Within the next 12 months, the U.S. Treasury will have to refinance $2 trillion in short-term debt.

That's not counting any additional deficit spending, maybe another $1.5 trillion ..... ish.

Add it up and you get $3.5 trillion ..... or so, a trillion here a trillion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.

That would be about 30% of our entire GDP.

Where do you think that money is gonna come from?

They're gonna print it.

Or snatch your IRA.

If not both.


The above was taken almost in it's entirety (with the exception of the bitter and/or sarcastic comments usually written with type just about this big) from a Porter Stansbury article that was all over the place most of this past fall.

It appears here, here, here  and there, but originated here  (somewhere).



The Decade's Best National Currency

Submitted by Roanman on Wed, 03/17/2010 - 14:24


James Turk founder of has created the following spreadsheet.

Mr. Turk also writes and publishes the Freemarket Gold and Money Report.

Click anywhere within the spreadsheet to link to the original article.



Gold's Rate of Appreciation Against 23 World Currencies
    2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Average
Switzerland franc -4.1% 5.0% 3.9% 7.0% -3.0% 36.2% 13.9% 22.1% -0.3% 20.3% 10.1%
Denmark krone 1.3% 7.7% 5.8% -0.2% -2.2% 35.5% 10.2% 18.8% 10.9% 20.3% 10.8%
euro/DEM euro 1.1% 8.1% 5.9% -0.5% -2.1% 35.1% 10.2% 18.8% 11.0% 20.4% 10.8%
Canada dollar -2.1% 8.8% 23.7% -2.2% -2.0% 14.5% 22.8% 11.5% 31.1% 5.9% 11.2%
New Zealand dollar 10.8% 8.9% -0.9% -4.4% -4.2% 25.1% 19.3% 19.5% 40.5% -1.5% 11.3%
Norway krone 3.6% 4.5% -3.6% 14.9% -4.0% 31.0% 13.5% 14.6% 36.0% 2.8% 11.3%
Australia dollar 11.2% 11.3% 13.5% -10.5% 1.4% 25.6% 14.4% 18.1% 33.0% -3.6% 11.4%
China yuan -5.7% 2.5% 24.8% 19.5% 5.2% 15.2% 18.8% 22.9% -1.0% 24.0% 12.6%
Singapore dollar -2.1% 9.3% 17.2% 17.1% 1.1% 20.4% 13.3% 23.1% 6.0% 21.0% 12.6%
Thailand baht 5.0% 4.3% 21.8% 9.7% 3.0% 24.9% 8.2% 7.4% 24.6% 19.0% 12.8%
Sweden krona 4.7% 13.5% 3.7% -1.0% -2.5% 40.7% 5.8% 24.2% 29.1% 12.6% 13.1%
Malaysia ringgit -5.7% 2.5% 24.7% 19.6% 5.2% 17.6% 14.7% 23.2% 10.3% 22.9% 13.5%
Japan yen 5.5% 17.4% 13.0% 7.9% 0.9% 35.7% 24.0% 23.4% -14.0% 27.1% 14.1%
Hong Kong dollar -5.4% 2.4% 24.7% 19.1% 5.4% 17.9% 23.2% 31.8% 5.2% 24.0% 14.8%
USA dollar -5.7% 2.5% 24.7% 19.6% 5.2% 18.2% 22.8% 31.4% 5.8% 23.9% 14.9%
Taiwan dollar -0.4% 8.1% 23.7% 17.1% -1.7% 22.1% 22.1% 30.8% 6.9% 20.9% 15.0%
UK pound 1.8% 5.4% 12.7% 7.9% -2.0% 31.8% 7.8% 29.7% 43.7% 12.1% 15.1%
South Korea won 5.2% 6.2% 12.6% 20.2% -8.6% 15.3% 13.1% 32.3% 42.7% 14.3% 15.3%
India rupee 1.3% 5.8% 24.0% 13.5% 0.0% 22.8% 20.5% 17.4% 30.5% 18.4% 15.4%
Brazil real 1.7% 21.4% 91.0% -2.2% -3.5% 3.9% 12.3% 9.6% 37.9% -6.8% 16.5%
South Africa rand 15.9% 62.4% -10.8% -6.7% -11.3% 32.5% 36.6% 28.1% 43.5% -1.9% 18.8%
Mexico peso -4.3% -2.4% 42.0% 28.9% 4.4% 12.7% 24.8% 32.9% 34.0% 17.0% 19.0%
Sri Lanka rupee 8.8% 15.2% 29.7% 19.6% 13.5% 15.6% 29.3% 32.9% 10.0% 25.5% 20.0%


To quote Ben Bernanke 11/21/02

Submitted by Roanman on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 07:18


"Like gold, U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply.

But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.

By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services.

We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation." 


To quote Dan Denning

Submitted by Roanman on Wed, 02/10/2010 - 07:02


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