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2017-04-22 05:00 by Karl Denninger
in Macro Factors , 126 references
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Have a look; this is a nice "gaze from 20,000'" with a lot of opinions:

"Medical cost inflation and the incentives to both remain ill and not work. Specifically, PPACA has driven a lot of it, as has expansion of SSDI. Not only does this destroy productivity directly it does so indirectly by driving deficit spending, which destroys the value of one's earnings. Last year that destruction was approximately 7% on a monetary basis just from Federal Debt expansion alone."

Much more at the link.... both my view and that of and others.

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2017-04-21 05:00 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 215 references
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You have to love The Atlantic and their "slant" on alleged "news":

Brick-and-mortar retail is having a meltdown, and economists are starting to see the effects in the job market.

Overall retail employment has fallen every month this year. Department stores, including Macy’s and JC Penney, have shed nearly 100,000 jobs since October—more than the total number of coal miners or steel workers currently employed in the U.S. Even America’s richest areas are getting hit: Employment in New York City clothing stores has fallen three years in a row, the longest period of decline on record, going back to the early 1990s.

Of course the lamentation is that unlike the coal industry (or manufacturing) there's been no political promise (empty or otherwise) to do something about this one.

Well, yeah.

Why does this shock you?

Who owns a major mainstream media outlet?  That's not the same guy who runs Amazon, is it?

And of course The Atlantic tries to make it appear that there's a racism element to it too: Manufacturing is, of course, "white men" while retail is not so-concentrated, ergo, they're all sexist and racist bastards in the medial the DC and that's why they won't report on the job loss.

But the decline of clothing-store jobs has something in common with the demise of manufacturing and mining jobs, too. They are both victims of the familiar forces of globalization and technology, which have conspired to make clothes cheaper and accessible online. 

Really?  This just started recently?  How long ago did all the textile jobs leave South Carolina?


And of course they try to claim that the losses are offset by distribution center employment.  Maybe, but there's a critical difference: You can't really replace a clerk in a store with a robot, or at least not very effectively.  But Amazon can and is mightily trying to replace employees with robotic systems -- and that will continue.  In other words the distribution center "jobs" are mostly temporary, even if "temporary" means "good for a year or three."

And, of course, The Atlantic pulls out the standard nostrums of socialism: "Universal" health care not tied to a company, etc.  I note most particularly that there is not one word about the ridiculous proliferation of monopolist behavior in that industry without which there'd be no need for "insurance" in virtually every instance at all.

But no!  We can't have that.  We can't have The Rule of Law and we can't do things that, well, make prices cheaper when it comes to those areas of pain that everyone is taking these days -- including displaced retail workers.

It is much harder to say the truth: Technology and trade make America richer as a country, but the winnings are distributed unevenly, and it’s the responsibility of government to improve the distribution without making everybody poorer in the process.

Technology maybe, trade frequently not.  Trade frequently takes the winnings and gives them to the Chinese and Mexicans.

Now exactly how is the government supposed to "improve the distribution" when it's no longer here?

Unless, of course, they're suggesting that we start using all that military hardware we have laying around.

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2017-04-20 17:40 by Karl Denninger
in Interviews , 228 references
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2017-04-19 05:00 by Karl Denninger
in Outside Thoughts , 245 references
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I keep seeing all sorts of crap on social media regarding ticks and insect-born disease (specifically, Lyme in the context of ticks) along with "recommendations" that are typically coming from extreme environmental jackasses that will not protect you whatsoever.

Of course it's not just ticks.  Mosquitoes are not just an annoyance, although in the US until recently that was all it was.  In much of the world mosquitoes carry yellow fever, dengue, malaria and more.  In the US we now have Zika (minor but real risk) but in terms of relative harm on a world-wide basis mosquito bites do a hell of a lot more harm than do ticks.

Second, contrary to popular belief ticks are not mostly propagated by deer.  Yes, they're part of the tick "circle of life" but if you want to know where the problem really comes from it's mice.

Most animals really don't like ticks on them and will try to groom or scrape them off, with varying degrees of success.  For reasons nobody I've seen explain with any degree of authority mice appear to not give a damn even when their faces are covered in the things, which means they get to exchange blood with said mouse and cross-infect one another.  Thus, where mouse populations are a problem ticks are sure to follow.

Controlling your risk when outside comes down to a few options, and IMHO there's only one that really works in a high-infestation of aggressive insect area, which I'll get to.

Worst and damn near worthless are the so-called "natural" products with eucalyptus oil and similar.  Don't waste your money.  Not only will they not keep mosquitoes off you they won't keep biting flies or ticks off either.  Mosquitoes and biting flies (along with most other flying insects that bite such as no-seeums) home in on carbon dioxide exhaled by animals and an alcohol, octenol, that is inherently in the breath of mammals. That's how they find you, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it as all mammals have it in their breath.  The so-called "odorish" repellents such as eucalyptus attempt to "poison" this homing mechanism by making you stink, basically.  While it does have some impact it's minimal.

In the category of "mostly works" is DEET-based repellents.

DEET works by targeting the actual receptors in the insect.  Is it perfect?  No, and among other things biting flies often ignore it entirely.  It's reasonably safe but you have to apply it essentially everywhere you have exposed skin and on clothing, because the bugs will bite through clothing that is not thick enough to prevent it.  There is no practical physical barrier option in warm weather because clothing thick enough to prevent a mosquito bite or a close-fitting enough to prevent a tick from getting inside is impossible to wear for any length of time in warm or hot weather.  DEET also will damage many synthetic fabrics.

In short DEET based repellents work to a material degree, they're reasonably safe, they're an option, but they're stinky, they require high-percentage coverage of skin and clothing to be effective, and some insects (specifically biting flies) will ignore repellents made with it.

None of these repellents do a thing for you once an insect finds you.  They simply reduce the probability of the insect's "homing mechanism" working.  In a place with enough of them you're still screwed; they'll reduce but not stop bites.  If a tick gets on you you will get bit even if covered in DEET.

This brings me to the only logical answer: Pyrethrum.

Pyrethrum is a pesticide derived from a naturally occuring chemical in the chrysanthemum flower.  Well over 100 years ago it was noted that a number of indigenous people of Asia and parts of Europe were using an extract from said flowers as an anti-lice treatment.  The molecule responsible was isolated and is now synthesized and available in a number of forms for various types of pest control.  It is the active ingredient in "de-lousing" shampoos for kids.  It is a primary component in flea and tick treatments for dogs and other animals, including livestock.  Of note is that it cannot be used on cats as it is highly toxic to them when in liquid form, but the dried residue is not dangerous to them -- only the liquid.

Again, I will note: The liquid will kill your cat.  It's safe once fully dry but the liquid must not be stored or used where a cat can get into it as fluffy will quickly become an ex-fluffy if it does.

What's especially noteworthy in this context, however, is that it is not a contact repellent but is instead applied to clothing and kills the insects that come in contact with it.  They also avoid contact to the extent they can; apparently they recognize the hazard.  And finally it doesn't smell; I can detect only a very faint odor although it certainly appears the insects can smell it a long way away and avoid it like the plague!

You can buy it in liquid, trigger-spray form at WalMart, BassPro and other places.  Some (online) places also sell it in concentrated form and it's a good way to save money but pay close attention to the "inert ingredients" -- some forms are intended for outside use and have a petroleum solvent in them, which is to be avoided on clothing for obvious reasons! 

Again, this stuff is not applied to skin -- it's applied to clothing before you wear it and allowed to dry first, which means you need to pre-treat your clothing at least a day or so before use.  The insect-barring treatment remains good for several washings, although it will eventually need to be reapplied.  You can also buy clothing pre-treated with it in a longer-lasting form (they infuse it under high pressure and claim it remains effective for a few dozen washings) called "Insect Shield", and if you really want to get crazy the company that does the treating will treat your clothing for you (send it to them, they treat and send it back.)

So if you want to keep things that bite off you, including ticks, try this:

1. Wear thin but long-sleeve and long-pant clothing.  Clothing exists that is made expressly for this purpose; it's typically constructed of very thin synthetics or very thin merino wool.  I've recently picked up a pair of "Rail Riders" pants which are the cat's ass in this regard in that they have zip open legs that remain protected by a mesh and are pre-treated.  Due to the zip-open nature of the bottom they're as cool as shorts on a hot day but provide more protection on cooler days.  For hiking or just general outdoor excursions they're excellent.  I used to use a technical long-sleeve running shirt for a top but have recently picked up a "technical" nylon, thin (and again, mesh under the pits and back of neck) from REI that I like a great deal.  That I treated as it didn't come already done.  Be aware that these pieces are going to be frightfully expensive, but you only need one or two pair of pants and one or two shirts.  This sort of clothing "breathes" exceptionally well and if you get it wet it will dry in minutes.

2. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, again, treated.  The idea here is to protect your head which is a bitch to examine well for ticks and bites on the head suck anyway.  I have owned a "Tilley Hat" for quite some time and it's great; ventilated at the top, wide-brimmed, water-resistant (not waterproof!) and so far it has held up well through several years of use.  In an extreme biting insect situation you might consider a very thin silk bandana for your neck that you've treated as well although I've never needed it.

3. Wear long, merino-wool socks.  They're good at preventing hot-spots and blisters when hiking, are anti-microbial (read: don't stink inside of 15 minutes), will retain warmth when they get wet and dry reasonably quickly.  You can treat these if you want but I don't; the pants are good enough.

Let me note that since adopting this approach out in the woods I don't get bit at all and I've yet to find a tick on me either.

In addition to being bite-free approaching the problem this way you'll also get a free add-on -- no need for sunblock, since you already are wearing sunscreen in the form of clothing -- which (greatly) beats slathering on the goop.

And finally it's a lot more comfortable and easy to deal with than "traditional" light clothing (e.g. T-shirt and a pair of shorts); it's both warmer in the early morning (when you want it) and believe it or not, cooler in the middle of the day since you both get wicking/evaporation and protection from direct sun heating.

Winner winner chicken dinner!

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2017-04-17 05:00 by Karl Denninger
in Federal Government , 983 references
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I claim no special power here, nor any inside information.  This is simply arithmetic coupled with logic.  I'll give you a "decision tree" sort of format with the critical points outlined.

Note that if you're going to mitigate any of what I see coming around the bend you need to do it right damn now, not wait.  By the time you get to those critical points it's too late.  For many people it's already too late, but if you're not in that batch then you need to make your lifestyle changes today.

I am operating on the premise that the rank corruption that I outlined in the Ticker here will not be addressed.  It will not be addressed for the same reason the 17th Amendment will be cited as the reason the American political experiment failed when the book on America is finally closed, as that Amendment permanently removed the ability of the States to call a hard-stop on any expansion of Federal Power they did not consent to.  That was designed in to our government by the founders and it was removed intentionally by the 17th Amendment.  That balance of power can never be restored absent a Revolution because to do so The Senate would have to literally vote themselves out of a job at a supermajority level which they will never do and there is no means to compel them to do so.

For the same reason the 30-year trend in Medicare and Medicaid spending will not be stopped.  It may be tinkered with around the edges but it won't be stopped because to stop it without literally throwing people into the street and letting them die you have to break the medical monopolies and in doing so you will inevitably (1) destroy the graft machine that drives a huge part of DC and at least half of the jobs inside the Beltway, along with the asset values they support, (2) create an immediate and deep (15% of GDP, but temporary) recession on purpose which neither Congress or Trump will ever voluntarily initiate as it would cause a guaranteed 70% stock market crash along with the immediate detonation of about 1/3rd of all in-debt corporations in the United States and (3) expose the outrageous theft of trillions of dollars from taxpayers over the last several decades to fund the medical scam machine at all levels.

The latter is perhaps the most-serious of all since were the people to experience still having health care at 10% of what they were spending before without health insurance and also without the $12,000+ a year they were spending on that worthless "insurance" there is a very real risk that they might lynch the entire set of 535 + 9 + 1 inside the Beltway and all of their associates as the only form of justice for the theft of their funds over the last 30 years that they are able to exact.

Congress knows all of the above.  Trump knows too.  So does the Supreme Court; after all, Roberts not only rewrote Obamacare (which he had no authority to do) twice but did so into a blatantly unconstitutional format which, incidentally, Congress knew they couldn't do and thus evaded in the first instance (an unapportioned direct tax, which is directly unconstitutional.)

The only reason they would ever take this issue on is if it was their only alternative -- if the risk of not doing so was higher.  Since it's literally impossible to get as few as a hundred people to show up in DC and raise hell for a single day on bank bailouts, say much less the medical scams, there is exactly zero risk to Congress, Trump and the rest of the Government from sticking up the middle finger to the American public on the issue of true Health Reform -- as they have been doing for the last 30+ years.

Therefore, on the math, we have roughly 5 years before the US Federal Government will attempt to spend $2 trillion a year between Medicare and Medicaid annually, $600 billion more on a yearly basis than it spends now.  It may try to forcibly shift some of the Medicaid spending to the States (as the AHCA did) but the bottom line will continue to expand at its ~9% annualized rate.

That cannot be financed.

It is mathematically impossible to do so, and thus it will not happen.

If the government tries to "print" it (via Fed machinations) doing so will further depress productivity which will go negative from its already-suppressed levels (as a result of the last ten years of deficit spending) and at that point GDP collapses and so do asset prices and tax revenue.

So they won't do that either because unlike in 2007 when the total between those two programs was $830 billion they can't get away with it at nearly three times the price.

What they'll probably do instead, therefore, is unilaterally and sadistically cut people off.

If you're one of them you will either suffer, die or (probably) both and they'll target those who are both fat and sick figuring, quite properly, that you'll be physically unable to do anything about it.

The low-hanging fruit, where a full 25% of the spending happens today, is on Type II diabetes.

If you're Type II diabetic you're ****ed, in short.  You better fix that if you can, right now.

If you're overweight and especially if you're obese you had better fix that too, right now, because that has a very high probability of leading to Type II diabetes.

It is my prediction that this is where they'll target first.

Fortunately, if you do it before you get abruptly cut off you probably can either massively mitigate the care you require as a result of that condition or regain sufficient blood sugar control to not be diabetic at all, and you do so at zero cost.  Right here, right now.

But most of Americans won't.

Within a couple of years of the cutoff 10 million Americans will die as a result of their refusal to act today.

In a couple more that count will be 30 million.

And all of them will die horribly.

Along with them will go the housing markets and credit related to it as population shrinks for the first time in American history and massive oversupply rears its head.

Right behind that will be the rest of asset prices.

This will be the "dip" that won't come back.

The worst part of it is that this doesn't end the problem, it only delays the worst of it by another 3 or 4 years.  Market recognition of that, when it occurs, will finish the economy and asset prices off.

And maybe our form of government.

You're welcome -- now are you going to do what you can to stop being one of the dead?

That is the only remaining question because we've already answered whether or not you'll do whatever is necessary to stop the corruption in DC generally and in the medical field specifically -- and that answer is no.

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