The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets

It's not difficult to see this coming, if you bother to look.

There is no rule of law any more if you're a government employee -- or one of those protected by same.

Let's put together just a partial list:

  • Health care.  Monopoly and/or cartel behavior of any sort is supposed to be illegal under 15 USC (Sherman and Clayton Acts) if market power exists.  When you're flat on your ass with a heart attack in process there is no market; ergo, it exists.  Ditto when you were just stung by a scorpion, or when the so-called "treating facility" refuses to present you with a price before they have you on the operating table -- and they told you that the operation was immediately necessary to save your health and/or life.  That's essentially all procedures except for elective, cosmetic ones -- where there is actual competition and prices have fallen over time.  All of this behavior, from charging $60,000 for two $100 vials of scorpion antivenom, charging someone $9,000 to bandage a finger or billing a routine $10-30 test at $10,000 is part and parcel of this, and in any unprotected line of business everyone involved would do 10 years of prison time and be fined $1 million each.

  • Government agencies, such as the IRS and NSA.  The number of times that have been documented in which perjury has been committed, a crime, (cough-Clapper-cough!) is too long to list.  We now find out that in the IRS targeting investigation not only is there a backup of Lerner's computer (as I originally asserted there had to be) but IRS lawyers admitted to the intentional destruction of the data on her BlackBerry after the investigation began.  For you or I that would immediately result in an obstruction of justice felony charge leveled against everyone involved - including Lerner herself.  Well, where is it?

  • Education.  Cartel behavior at its finest.  You can find virtually any sort of knowledge and lectures on any topic you wish online nowdays.  Yet without obtaining them at a price infinitely higher than those freely available, the exact same material I might add and often delivered by the exact same professors, your knowledge is deemed immaterial and worthless.  This occurs due to cartel behavior between universities and businesses -- again, something that should bring immediate prosecution under 15 USC.  Well, where is it?

  • Education again.  Not content to try to force you to pay them something they also conspire to force you to pay more.  Once you're a captive sucker you get hammered on all sides; you are first told to file a FASFA in which your parents must disclose their assets and income, never mind that you're an adult.  Then, if you're not poor, despite this being sold to you as being a means of obtaining "aid", you are offered only loans, which are not aid at all.  This particular cartel behavior includes the government as they will attempt to force you to file one even to claim things they say are earned, such as "Bright Futures" scholarships!  Once you get to class it's even worse; your son or daughter who paid the full price (and had to borrow the money and thus pay interest too!) is sitting next to a kid who paid little or nothing.  How?  Your son or daughter was effectively forced to buy his tuition!  Communism at its finest, all at gunpoint.

  • So-called "law enforcement."  Point a gun at another person when you are not legally permitted to shoot (e.g. to stop a forcible felony in process) and you are arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon (or aggravated assault in some jurisdictions.)  The identical behavior was documented on video and still camera images all over Ferguson by the police; where are the indictments?

  • Banks.  Swindle someone out of $10,000 and it's grand theft, extortion, fraud or any one of a dozen other crimes, all serious felonies.  Hell, all you have to do is a pass a bad check in many jurisdictions to wind up on the wrong end of a felony indictment!  It has been proved that myriad large banks sold securities to customers representing them as "good investments" when in fact their own internal emails document that their staff called them "vomit" (and other similar names) -- that is, they knew they were worthless.  Where are the indictments?

  • The Federal Reserve.  The Federal Reserve Act specifically charges the FOMC with regulating both money and credit so as to maintain stable prices, moderate long term interest rates and maximum employment.  Maximum employment may be a loosely-defined goal as may "moderate" long-term interest rates but stable is not a fuzzy word.  The Federal Reserve has willfully and intentionally violated this mandate serially since its inception.  You have about 3-4% of your earnings power stolen every single year as a consequence.  Where are the indictments?

  • Ben Bernanke has admitted that (in his view) virtually all systemically important financial firms were on the edge of collapse in 2008.  This, he cites, is justification for his extraordinary policy moves.  There's a problem -- his mandate is to regulate said money and credit systems all the time, not just in a crisis.  That filing is an admission that both he and the NY Fed failed to do so; that is, they failed to perform their statutory duty.  Why aren't both he and Tim Geithner in prison, seeing as he made this admission before a court in a sworn filing?

Here's the problem with this sort of behavior and the protection of same: Civility in general only exists because you, I, and most of the rest of society willingly conform our behavior to the law.  

There are not enough cops, no matter what sort of badge and uniform they wear, to enforce the law otherwise.  If any material percentage of the population decides to behave as these people in their protected circumstances have and do the entirety of law and order collapses instantly.

Well, why is it that you permit the above to occur?  Why did you allow it to develop?  Why do you still allow it?

And how long will it before all of this theft and fraud renders you unable to keep your head above water?

Let me explain that for you: For most people you're already unable.

Look at the stock market, as one example.  There is more margin debt outstanding than cash in accounts as of today, and in fact this margin is worse than ever before in history (yes, even worse than in 2007.)  In other words, but for the claimed paper value of said certificates the market is factually bankrupt right now on a gross, "every man" basis!

Almost 20% of the gross domestic product of this nation (that is, everything produced) is siphoned off by the health care "system" with its grift, extortion and abuse.  That's nearly one dollar in five!  A look at other developed, first-world nations (e.g. Japan) discloses that we should be able to buy our health care for somewhere between 1/10th and 1/5th of what we pay today.  Were that to be the case there would be no need for Medicare, Medicaid or health insurance -- Obamacare or otherwise! Medicare is a great example; you're responsible for 20% of the cost, by default, and you must pay a premium to the government.  But if your care was anywhere from 1/5th to 1/10th of today's price you would actually pay less than the co-pay and deductible you pay today and you wouldn't pay any premium at all!  In other words, even for the old guy or gal that currently is "on the dole" and allegedly "getting something" you'd be better off financially without Medicare were all of these acts to be prosecuted instead of protected!  Whether you're rich, poor, young or retired, this scam steals from you each and every day without delivering any more value than it would without the theft.  

Take the scam out of education and the cost collapses.  Now you could flip pizzas to pay for college as you could in the 1970s and early 80s before those schemes were instituted.  Prosecute The Federal Reserve Board and Banks and the price of assets, including houses would collapse -- probably by 75% or more.  Not only does this mean you could buy a house for far less but for those who choose not to or who can't rents would come down by 3/4 as well!

Why do you need Section 8 and other similar programs when your cost of housing is cut to a tiny fraction of what it is today?  

You don't!

If you believe that the cost of food hasn't skyrocketed in the last five years you're not paying attention.  It has.  Ditto for energy.  Oh yes, those are "excluded" from "inflation" numbers, but you have to buy them anyway.

So what happens when you can't make the income balance against the outflow?  You borrow money in some form or fashion.

Yet that simply puts you further in the hole.

And that's what's been going since roughly 1980:

Of course borrowing against nothing, that is, creating credit with nothing behind it, looks good initially because it makes it appear you can keep buying things.  Unfortunately that credit comes with both a requirement to repay it and interest; the latter is a huge problem because over time it compounds just as do earnings.

The usual chestnut is that borrowing stimulates production and is of net benefit.  But the facts are that when borrowing accumulates faster than output that assertion is proved false; what is really going on is that people are borrowing to either consume or speculate.  The former permanently destroys value and the latter leaves you exposed to instant insolvency since the alleged "price" of what you speculate on has been disconnected from its value and is now largely (or even entirely!) predicated only on what someone else will pay.

The majority opinion appears to be that as long as you can get your little piece of the grift, whether it be Medicare, Food Stamps, Section 8 or a rising stock market it's all ok.  Ask yourself -- is that actually true or are you deluding yourself?  Are you falling behind despite getting your little piece of the grift or are you getting ahead?  What about your children?  Are they able to get ahead?  Is the same sort of investment you made 20 or 30 years ago credible as a means for them to obtain results similar or superior to what you obtained, or are they staring down a black hole of indebtedness while pulling coffees at Starbucks?  How about that "new car"; nearly $40,000 today as a "median" price and loan terms extending toward eight years -- when just a little while ago the normal term was four.  How's the job market in your area?  More importantly than the number of jobs -- how's the pay and how does that compare against the increase in health care, food, fuel and insurance expenses you must pay every day just to remain solvent?

Think about it for a while.

Then once again contemplate this: For how long as you going to allow all of the above to continue?  Will you allow it to continue right up until civility is lost entirely or will you demand that it stop and that those committing these acts face the same charges and penalties that you or I would for the same offenses?

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

2014-08-27 09:21 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 215 references

Gee, there's no bias here, right?

What we need, then, is an equivalent universal inbox for messaging. No, not just for all your email and text messages. For everything. We need a smart inbox that'll sort messages by service, label them appropriately and will let you continue conversations within just one app.

I've had that for the last two+ years.  On my BlackBerry Z10.

Engadget knows this, because they "reviewed" said device.  And, after a few heated comments, they edited their piece to mention that -- below the fold, of course.

BlackBerry's Hub, present since the first release of BB10 devices, does exactly what is being described.  It places all inbox and notification information in one place and you can reply and manage them all there too.  Text messages, Facebook, Twitter, various Android apps (e.g. Snapchat, Instagram, etc), any number of email accounts -- I have three active -- phone calls, voicemails, etc.

In later (current) versions you can flag particular people as being "priority" contacts so anything they send you and any conversation you initiate shows up at the top in its own "priority" inbox as well.

Yes, I agree that this should be present on a "smart" device.  Apple and Google don't want it, however, because they want you to prefer their tools (e.g. Gmail) and putting everything in one place, along with letting you control it all, means they lose their ability to try to lever you.  In other words, they lose some of what they want -- you being the product that is being sold, that is.

Does all this matter?  You bet it does.  I rarely go into Facebook or Twitter, say much less the individual email application or even the text message system on my phone.  I do nearly all of my interaction with messaging services on The Hub, in one, unified place.

Exactly as it should be.

BlackBerry: Messaging done right.

PS: BB10 devices, such as the Z10, the Z30, the Q10 and upcoming Passport and Classic, also run Android apps....

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

Not just Bernanke, either -- all of the FOMC and the entire NY Fed.

Mr. Bernanke is quoted making the statement in a document filed on Aug. 22 with theU.S. Court of Federal Claims as part of a lawsuit linked to the 2008 government bailout of insurance giant American International Group Inc.AIG +0.37%

“September and October of 2008 was the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression,” Mr. Bernanke is quoted as saying in the document filed with the court. Of the 13 “most important financial institutions in the United States, 12 were at risk of failure within a period of a week or two.”

From where I sit I allege that's either perjury or an admission of intentional and willful misconduct.

After all The Fed's mandate is to regulate money and credit supply.  That includes the credit that AIG was (ab)using with their little game.

Oh sure, AIG itself may have been outside of the Fed's regulatory umbrella, but the 12 financial institutions were not.

Any time the blue line is above the red the money and credit system, which The Fed is responsible for balancing under the law, is in fact not in balance.  It wasn't leading up to the crash in 2008 and it isn't now.

Therefore either Bernanke and pals were incompetent or complicit.  And since Bernanke claims competence, as does Geithner, that leaves only one option.

For how long will Americans allow this blatant, in-your-face outrageous crap to continue?

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

You know you've gone from the ridiculous to the obscene when a company buys a web "property" that has as its claim to fame the broadcasting of people playing video games.


Really.  And let's not kid ourselves -- Amazon didn't buy the company because it makes gobs of money (it doesn't) it bought it because it is on the front end of an exponential adoption curve.  In other words, while costs are still (relatively) cheap to do what it does, and the fact that it earns nothing.  The actual capacity to earn a profit is considered immaterial.

It's worth a billion dollars to watch someone else play a video game?

I will note that it was worth billions to sell pet supplies over the Internet too.

In 1999.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

And not just when there's some buggery going on in the locker room either.

Tuition gouging for degrees that are useless in the real world and a failed business model have put U.S. colleges front and center as exacerbating income inequality.

Many college students are increasingly getting priced out of getting the very same skills elected officials in Washington, D.C. have strenuously argued are needed to stop rising pay gaps.

From the perspective of both the Federal Government and the colleges, however, there's nothing broken at all.

Over the decades, college officials have used their nonprofit status to build an unsustainable business model more akin to hoteliers, one that real estate mogul Donald Trump would envy. And all on the backs of taxpayers, students and their families.

On the contrary -- a hotelier does not attempt to force you to travel and thus be subject to his rent for the night.  Colleges, in conjunction with the rest of the Federal Government and other businesses, do.

Of course in a world where there was such a thing as actual prosecution for breaking of the law the mere discussion of "requiring" college degrees for work that has no bearing on the granted degree by any material portion of the employment universe would instantly lead to criminal prosecution under The Sherman Act.  A few $1 million fines leveled at individuals and some $10 million ones aimed at corporations and universities would prove quite the disincentive to that sort of cartel behavior!

A top college watchdog, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), adds: “It is a tragedy that our colleges and universities are increasingly characterized by their high costs, not their high standards,” adding, “it is time to demand improvement.”

Oh really?

Where is the demand to get rid of the "special" status that student loan debt has?  I'll tell you where it's not -- it's not coming from such so-called shining lights as Elizabeth Warren, who wishes to instead drive the cost of college higher by making the money even cheaper and more-available.  Basic economics tells us that this will do nothing more than shift the supply:demand curve even more toward unaffordable -- for anyone not (at that instant) using the "free" money.

That, of course, is literally everyone once they stop attending school!

Then there's what I've often talked about in that colleges put forward costs that I argue are intentional falsehoods in that they all quote "4 year" prices.  Yet the common "term" of school nowdays is six years, so your cost will be 50% higher.  THAT should be the quoted price -- the typical outcome, not the "best case" one.  Again there are myriad laws that allegedly require you not to mislead people in your advertising and promotional materials; how the so-called "4 year" costs don't objectively violate those laws is beyond me.

Next up is our President who has set "income based repayment" plans for federally-underwritten college debt.  That's a nice idea, except for one problem -- any amount ultimately written off is 1099'd to you and you owe federal tax on it unless you got the foregiveness by working for non-profits.  What's even worse is that such a 1099 is the same as income in the year it's written off, and if you have a large balance (say, $100,000) that is "forgiven" that will force your tax bracket for that year to be much higher and can easily result in a $30,000 tax bill -- due right now, thank you very little, and if you don't have it oh the IRS will attach yet more and continuing interest to the balance until you do!

And then there are the utterly worthless degrees -- especially those in the so-called "liberal arts."  It used to be that when you went to college the first two years or so was spent learning things that had little to do with a particular profession but plenty to do with what was thought of as classical education -- defined as literature, history, sciences and mathematics.  In short the first two years of your post-secondary education were designed to hone your ability to think, providing you with the historical and factual references necessary to do so.  Given that ability, the thought process went, you were more likely to be able to reasonably process information in your chosen profession.

Today this is no longer considered "necessary."  As a result we have a plethora of so-called "educated" people bearing college degrees who are incapable of thought, who believe that exponential growth can go on forever, who believe in 100mpg carburetors that were "suppressed" by oil companies, who fail to comprehend that we steal $700 billion from citizens in the form of taxes so others can sit on their ass and get drunk or high instead of working (yet we don't call that theft) and who fail to understand the basics of monetary balance, thereby permitting deficit spending of all sorts to take place on the premise that it's "good" -- or at least, isn't "bad."  This is why our local politicians can use the money that should be put aside for new roofs and cafeteria chillers in our local schools, a maintenance and replacement expense 20 years in the coming for things like Wii game consoles and then go back to the people crying poverty and demanding a tax increase without being at least politically hung by their necks until dead -- or being prosecuted for theft-at-gunpoint and possibly being literally sentenced to same.

The Federal Government loves this state of affairs, of course, since they're the biggest bamboozlers (and just plain boozers) among all.  It is their chicanery and lies that enable all the rest; without the deficit spending purchasing power would have dramatically increased among the common American.  Isn't that what we want to happen?  Well, it should be, but of course it's not among many, and the shibboleth commonly used is that weakening the currency (by expanding national debt) means that exports would be favored (and thus so would GDP.)  The problem with such a claim is that I have to buy my goods and services with said weaker currency; when I no longer can do that what happens next?  We know that: Earnings power is replaced by credit in a puerile (and futile) attempt to keep pace -- right up until that bubble bursts.

Are you going to see solutions to this problem?  Probably not, at least in the short run.  Like all bubbles the insanity inherent in them continues far longer than it should.  Eventually the universities playing this game, and their government enablers, will find either empty ivory towers or burnt out ones; revulsion either leads to abandonment or revolution, given enough time.

Let's hope it remains peaceful, although given the willingness of the various parties to do things that ought to be illegal I have my doubts.

View this entry with comments (registration required to post)

Main Navigation
Full-Text Search & Archives
Archive Access
Get Adobe Flash player
Legal Disclaimer

The content on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and may contain errors or omissions.


The author may have a position in any company or security mentioned herein. Actions you undertake as a consequence of any analysis, opinion or advertisement on this site are your sole responsibility.

Market charts, when present, used with permission of TD Ameritrade/ThinkOrSwim Inc. Neither TD Ameritrade or ThinkOrSwim have reviewed, approved or disapproved any content herein.

The Market Ticker content may be reproduced or excerpted online for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given and the original article source is linked to. Please contact Karl Denninger for reprint permission in other media or for commercial use.

Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.