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Commentary on The Capital Markets

Thursday (tomorrow, 12/18), 20:00 ET

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Oh Good Lord....

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators moving toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate. The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced. The Committee expects inflation to rise gradually toward 2 percent as the labor market improves further and the transitory effects of lower energy prices and other factors dissipate. The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely.

Yeah, right.

Transitory energy price factors eh?  We'll see on that one; yes, it may well be transitory but if it is the snapback is likely to be really ugly (although a second-half 2015 or later story.)

I find the Fed and Yellen's press conference amusing in the extreme.  Of course the usual pump squad is all over the release trying to further crank up the stock market -- which doesn't surprise me at all, with the SPX now up 40 handles (2%.)

The fun part of this is that (1) thus far it hasn't done a damn bit of good other than cranking the stock and bond markets and (2) there's no evidence that it will in the future.

So what you have here is basically wishful thinking, but heh, candy-crapping Unicorns are all the rage these days......

Go ahead and believe, if you wish..... the fact of the matter is that the market has been in trouble of late not because of The Fed but rather because of weakening global demand that no longer can be denied as it is showing up in energy consumption.

Folks, it's simple when you boil it all down in terms of actual economic activity and forward views of same, as I pointed out in Leverage:  Behind every unit of GDP is a unit of energy.

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We got trouble coming folks...

The Ruble has been all over the board -- straight down for quite some time since the Ukraine-related sanctions were imposed, and now there's been a roughly 9% surge in value today alone.

This sort of volatility is big trouble; it makes international trade nearly impossible as there is no way to figure out what your costs look like on a forward basis.  A steady move in either direction for a currency can be hedged; violence in the FX markets is never good for anyone -- on either side.

Let's not forget that nations, when they get in trouble with their currencies, have a habit of resorting to war as a means of resolving their problems.  That, to put it mildly, would be bad.  While Russia is unlikely (in the extreme) to direct any sort of attack against the United States, that Putin might attempt "re-consolidation" of more territory in the "old" USSR is not beyond reasonable expectation, and the potential for European allies -- or even us -- to get dragged into it is very real.

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So it's almost 2015, and thus about four years since I decided to change my way of eating -- and my life.

It's also now more than three years since I reached my "normal" body mass, and there it remains.

And by the way, we're talking about a change from ~210lbs to roughly 155, plus or minus five over the course of about eight months -- and now three years of stability.

You can argue with anything you'd like except results.  And the results are what they are.  I'm still able to crank off 5ks in a reasonably-competitive fashion; I have a Grandmaster win and a 1st-in-division (50-54) under my belt in the last month alone.  In 2011 I couldn't run one half of one mile without having to drop to a walk.  I'm contemplating running a half-marathon next year and believe, based on my running to date, that I can complete it at 9 minute/mile pace.

If you're eating the usual carb-laden "recommended" diet (or anything approaching it) and keep seeing the pounds add year after year, cut the crap -- and the carbs.  Just get 'em all out, other than green veggies.  Don't cheat for one solid month and then decide.

There are some who think Obamacare will save them in some form or fashion, and then there are those of you who are literally dependent on a pill bottle for what you call "health."  Both beliefs are a chimera and horsecrap -- health is a normal metabolic condition in the absence of interventions; if you are stuffing your face full of pharmaceuticals you're not healthy, you're cheating.

This is not to say that there are not times that you don't need this drug or that (antibiotics anyone?) but if you're dependent on them on a regular or worse, daily basis the first question to ask yourself is whether you're in that state because of something you literally cannot avoid or is it because you simply refuse to change how you live?

Leave aside the cost of the drug; no drug exists without side effects, and the worst side effects, especially when it comes to problems caused by chronic use of a given pharmaceutical, are those that we either don't know enough about or worse, they're down-played by the medical industry rather than being honestly discussed and debated with you before you start using the drug in the first place.

Wake up America.  I did in this regard a few years ago.

You can do it too.

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Some of you folks just don't get it.

Torture is illegal under International Law -- so says the Geneva Conventions, which the US adheres to.

There is no proof that torture "works" to get truthful information.

Nonetheless, there are times that a legitimate leader will do anything to prevent an event he or she believes is going to occur.  Literally anything, including illegal things.

The problem with these incidents that may have crossed the line is that nobody in the chain of command who ordered and authorized them is going to pay for it; at worst some military or CIA guy or gal is going to be thrown under the bus.

In a word: NO!

The entire point of my articles on this subject is to underline that the rule of law mandates that if you're going to make the decision to order or use these sorts of "interrogation methods" everyone up and down the chain of command involved, up to and including the President if he or she is aware of it, must be exposed to and accept the punishment for doing so.

That is the only way that a proper evaluation of the potential gains and certain costs to the people engaging in these tactics can be undertaken.

We must demand as citizens that the costs be imposed on each and every one of the people who engaged in those tactics that crossed said line as defined by International Law, and if we do not then we are inviting those tactics to be used on each and every one of us by any so-called "law enforcement or spy" agency that wishes to do so because they do not need to make said evaluation as to whether the personal price of doing so is worth the potential information to be gained.

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