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Thread: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Military Report: DoD Releases 2014 BAH, COLA Cut Creates Outrage

    COLA Cut Creates Outrage

    Week of December 23, 2013


    On Wednesday, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) by a vote of 64-36. The two year budget deal includes a provision that reduces working age retirees' annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by one percent until they reach the age of 62 -- and fails to grandfather existing retirees and currently serving members who plan to serve a 20-plus year career. Because of the fast-track nature of the bill, many members of Congress were caught off-guard by the overall financial impact retirees would face. Read the rest of the article at Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).



    2014 Active Duty COLA Released

    Week of December 23, 2013
    The DoD has released the 2014 Stateside Cost-of-living-Allowance rates. As with each year, some areas will see increases while other areas will see reductions or lose COLA entirely. Unlike the Basic Allowance for Housing, there is no provision in the law for rate protection for COLA. This means that if your location sees a drop in COLA, you will see the reduction reflected in your military paycheck. Learn more about the COLA changes in 2014.


    Use the Military.com Pay Calculator to see what your total pay will be in 2014.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Vets Return to Streets to Reach the Homeless

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    Associated Press | Dec 24, 2013 | by Kevin Freking
    CONCORD, Mass. - Not far from where the Boston Massacre helped sow the seeds for the Revolutionary War, David Dyer points toward the underpass where he'd score crack cocaine by day and the train depot where he'd sleep some nights.
    Now, he has a family, a home and a job - helping homeless veterans get off the streets, like he did.
    Dyer is part of a team of veterans, some formerly homeless themselves, that the state of Massachusetts has hired to get veterans off the streets in the Boston area. Typically, they spend one day a week roaming the city's storefronts, alleys and shelters, which is what he was doing one recent morning outside Boston's South Station. "I guess you could call this my home for about a month," he reminisced.
    The rest of the week is spent making sure those who have found housing are staying the course. The Veterans Affairs Department, which funds the effort, is considering doubling the size of the team in the coming year.
    President Barack Obama's administration has pledged to eliminate homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. And while the rate has been dropping, time is running short.
    So communities such as Boston are aggressively hitting the streets with offers of housing, treatment and hope. Using formerly homeless veterans such as Dyer and team leader Christopher Doyle helps them make inroads with a community that often is distrustful of people who haven't experienced what they've been through.
    "When they say, `Oh, you don't know what I'm talking about,' I can say, `Yeah, I do, because I was there myself,'" said Doyle, who at one point lived in a VA homeless shelter with about 180 other veterans before landing a job with the state.
    ---
    James Harrington appears to be one of the program's success stories.
    Harrington estimates that he was homeless for nearly a dozen years. At first, he said, he lived in vacant apartment complexes that were under construction. Then he spent most of his nights at Logan International Airport.
    He arrived at his new one-bedroom apartment in February with nothing but his door keys and a backpack.
    It took him about a month to get used to the feeling that he could stay - if he wanted to.
    "You're so used to living so many years in someone else's domain," said Harrington, 66, an Army veteran who served stateside during the Vietnam War. "There was this expectation that someone's going to be coming through the door because they really own the place that you're in."
    Harrington takes great pride in turning his new apartment into a home. He found a couple of Ethan Allan end tables that neighbors were going to throw away. Carly Brown, a VA social worker, drove him to a local furniture bank where he picked out a sofa and a bed. And Doyle chipped in as well, giving him an RCA television. Now just look at the place, Harrington beams.
    "Where are you going to find something better than this?" said Harrington. "You're not."
    A voucher from the federal government pays $981 of the veteran's monthly rent. He uses his Social Security and a VA pension to pay another $221 himself.
    Doyle checks on him weekly to make sure he's OK. "I sometimes just talk to him about the last movie he watched," Doyle said. "It's to show I have an interest in his life."
    Doyle said he believes that regular visits from a fellow veteran make it harder for his clients to give up and go back to their old life.
    "It's easy to put someone into an apartment, but it's not as easy to keep them in one," Doyle said. "A lot of these guys do have mental health issues or substances abuse issues. Sometimes, that's the reason they do the right thing because they know I'm going to come see them."
    ---
    The federal government estimates that the homeless rate among veterans has dropped by about 25 percent in the past three years, but nearly 58,000 veterans remain on the streets or in temporary shelters on any given night.
    "I have said from the beginning, the climb will get steeper the closer we get to the summit," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said earlier this year in Washington. "All the easy cases will have been housed. In the end, we will have the toughest, most difficult cases to solve - some prior failures, some behavioral problems, even some serious mental health issues."
    VA officials point to Boston as a model for what can be done when local and federal organizations work together. Their focus is to get chronically homeless veterans into a house or apartment as soon as possible instead of putting them into temporary or emergency shelters for months at a time. Then, once the vet gets into a house, officials arrange the support services the veteran will need to stay there, such as substance abuse counseling and job training. Typically, the federal government pays most of the cost for the home through a voucher. Local officials and nonprofits also help coordinate the support services that are, again, mostly paid for through the VA.
    "When you put housing as the priority, the treatment and everything else comes along in a much more effective way because they're getting their most basic needs met first," said Vincent Kane, director of the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, which conducts policy analysis and research. "They're not worried where their next meal is coming from or what roof will be over their head that night."
    To estimate the number of homeless veterans, the federal government relies on an annual count that takes place in January. Thousands of volunteers, government employees and nonprofit workers search their local streets, parks and shelters in an effort to count the number of homeless people. The latest count in Boston estimated 458 homeless vets on any given night in 2013, a drop of 15 percent over the past three years. That's not as steep as the national drop, but VA officials in Massachusetts said that's partly because their outreach efforts have helped them find homeless people who previously would have gone uncounted.
    Kane said veterans are key members of its homeless outreach teams in communities such as Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Detroit and Denver.
    ----
    Doyle and Dyer met each other at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Doyle, who served in the Army during the first Gulf War, overheard Dyer speaking about his experiences in Afghanistan and decided to approach him and offer a friendly ear.
    Dyer had drug problems before he entered the Army. After his discharge, Dyer said, his drug use intensified.
    "It's just so much easier to use, you think, because you've totally given up on yourself," he said. "You've given up on life. You're pretty much pissed that you woke up."
    His health went downhill and he eventually was hospitalized with kidney failure. He woke up to find his father sitting next to his bed. Dyer said he saw how badly he was hurting his family and resolved that his spiral was over.
    Doyle, meanwhile, kept tabs on Dyer's progress and eventually asked him to join the veterans' homeless team. Dyer said the job helps him stick with his recovery.
    "If you're not out there helping somebody, the chances of staying in recovery and staying clean, really, aren't that good," he said. "I found that out personally."
    ---
    Most of the team's clients have drug and alcohol issues that require counseling and treatment. Harrington said he's never had a problem with drugs or alcohol and said his problems were financial. He said in recent years he spent most of his nights at the airport. At dawn, he'd head over to the Boston Public Library.
    One night, an airport worker brought in a social worker from the VA to talk to him. The VA helped him get a pension to supplement his Social Security. It also helped him land a government voucher. He marveled at the support he's received.
    "They had a whole team of support people, like, if you need furniture, they get you furniture. If you need food, they'll bring food to you," Harrington said.
    But other cases are much tougher - the chronic homeless that Shinseki referred to.
    At Boston's Emmanuel Church, Bryant Draycott says he's been told he is No. 5 on the list to get a government voucher that would let him live in an apartment. The Navy veteran said he'll take help, but only on his terms.
    "I'm the vet. They're not," he said. "You want to give me a room? You want to give me an apartment? OK, I'll stay there for at least a couple of days. I'll give it a try for a week. If I don't like it, I'll tell you what you can do with it."
    And another thing, don't use the word homeless in his presence.
    "To me, personally, I hate that word. I refuse to use the term homeless. With me, I'm on vacation."
    Draycott estimates that he's been on vacation for about eight years.
    "And loving every minute of it," he said.
    ---
    Then there's Thomas Moore, 79, who has no interest in getting a government-subsidized apartment. He said he was willing to accept a blanket from the social workers who visit him, but when they broach the idea of housing, "I try in a kind way to back off."
    He demonstrates just how difficult it will be for the Obama administration to reach its goal, despite all the assurances that it's on track. Sitting on the sidewalk a block from Boston's most luxurious shopping boutiques, Moore described having a "nervous breakdown" as a 17-year-old serving on the front lines in Korea. He said he feels responsible for the death of his best friend during one firefight and spent months afterward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. He said he underwent numerous shock treatments.
    When he gets tired of living on the street, he said, he'll rent a cheap hotel room for a month.
    "There's something about the rough edge of living out here that distracts me from my inner life," Moore said.
    Despite Moore's insistence that he doesn't want their help, the veterans' homeless team doesn't plan to quit asking him if he's changed his mind.
    "You don't know when it's going to be that day when somebody says I'm done living like this and accepts the help," Dyer said.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    2-In-3 Call It A 'Bad Year,' 4-In-10 A Disaster For Their Family

    December 27, 2013

    Overshadowed by the bungled debut of Obamacare and congressional gridlock, most Americans in a new poll dubbed 2013 a bad year that will be quickly forgotten. For more than four-in-10, the perils of 2013 hit home hard.

    “Put simply, most Americans are happy to see 2013 go,” said the latest Economist/YouGov Poll.

    — 54 percent called 2013 a “bad year” for the world. Another 15 percent called it a “very bad year,” with just 3 percent calling it a “very good year” and 29 percent a “good year.”

    — Only 13 percent of Republicans say 2013 has been a good year for the world.

    — Obamacare is a failure. “There are almost no issues where a majority of Americans have seen improvement. Only a quarter say health care coverage is better today than it was a year ago; more than half say it has gotten worse, reflecting the continued poor assessments given to the Administration’s health care reform (in this week’s Economist/YouGov poll, for example, a majority continues to call it a failure, and nearly half think it should be repealed).”

    — 41 percent called 2013 a bad or very bad year for their families.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Some news on how the Christmas shopping season has gone.


    As The Clock Ticks, Retail Traffic Continues Slide

    December 23, 2013

    27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,0,0" >

    Brick-and-mortar retailers saw no signs of relief last week, as store traffic in the final week before Christmas posted the third straight week of double-digit declines, according to the most recent report from ShopperTrak.

    According to the analytics firm, traffic for the week ended Dec. 22—which included the crucial final weekend before Christmas—was down 21.2 percent year over year. The first two weeks of December saw double-digit decreases, which trailed a 4 percent decline over Black Friday weekend, it said.

    In-store sales fell 3.1 percent from the same week in 2012, ShopperTrak added.

    "I think the Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day sales took a lot of energy out of the consumer," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.

    "We still have some days left to go—there could be some ground made up. [Monday] was an important day, one of the top five days of the year," he said, adding that Dec. 26 is the seventh-busiest sales day. Strong gift card sales could push some buying until after the holiday, which could be vital days to the success of the season.

    "We're still looking at 2.4 percent [gain] for the holiday season, even though we're seeing some softness in December," Martin said.

    But the picture appears bleak for retailers. Many were expecting to post big numbers this past weekend, hoping that shoppers had delayed their buying amid a shorter holiday calendar. Earlier in the season, ShopperTrak had said that Friday, Saturday and Sunday would rank among the busiest days of the shopping season.

    Weak traffic and tight consumer spending have led many retailers to aggressively discount merchandise and remain open at all hours. In many cases, efforts have led to promotions that matched or exceeded deals on Black Friday weekend.

    Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger said that half of the retailers she covers offered whole-store discounts, compared with only 35 percent last year. Among those were teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, Express and Ann Taylor, which gave shoppers 50 percent off their entire purchase.

    "We think business picked up strongly this past weekend, as anticipated, but total holiday sales are still trending below plan," Greenberger said in a note. "While week three didn't reveal price reductions implying all-out panic, there weren't many positive signs, either."

    Wells Fargo analyst Paul Lejuez noted that although he thought the weekend seemed busy, it had a lot to make up for—namely, snow and ice that hit the Northeast and Midwest in the prior week, and dramatic price cuts.

    "We believe weaker merchandise margins will end up being more of an issue than weak sales," Lejuez said.

    Greenberger sounded a similar note, saying that if sales over the last few days before Christmas aren't terrific, negative fourth-quarter earnings revisions could follow.

    Some retailers are already looking past the mistletoe and eggnog, promoting their after-Christmas sales before shoppers even unwrap their gifts. Gap's Old Navy sent out email alerts that its after-holiday sales started Sunday, offering up to 75 percent off throughout the store. L Brands' Victoria's Secret also kicked off its semiannual sale online Monday.

    Many analysts had predicted aggressive sales would continue in the post-holiday environment to snag extra transactions and round out solid December numbers.

    "We expect the final two weeks of the month to be more promotional than most companies expected," Lejuez said.

    It's not all bad

    Online shopping has continued to be the bright spot in a challenging season. Analytics firm comScore last week said that as of Wednesday,10 days this season had eclipsed $1 billion in online spending.

    Although those figures will not salvage sales for all brick-and-mortar retailers, SW Retail Advisors President Stacey Widlitz said physical stores with a strong online presence, such as Macy's, will be able to make up for weakness at the mall.

    Retailers with a small Web operation will have a problem, she said. "They'll be stuck with extra inventories they have to clear."

    Macy's; TJX; fast-fashion names such as H&M; and Gap, which saw increased traffic because of effective promotions, are emerging as the season's winners, said Dana Telsey, CEO of Telsey Advisory Group.

    Greenberger said Michael Kors remains one of the strongest names and that aggressive promotions across key divisions at Limited Brands and Gap could lead to a solid December for those companies.

    Joe Feldman at Telsey Advisory Group said Best Buy and GameStop should also post strong numbers.

    "I think the video game console cycle is certainly helping, but there's demand for smartphones, for tablets, for TVs—everything related to that," he said.

    On the flip side, Greenberger said heavy discounting at Chico's did not appear to resonate as well with shoppers.

    Lejuez at Wells Fargo said the teen retail sector continued to suffer. American Eagle and Abercrombie's Hollister performed better than Aéropostale, he said, but added that "better is only a relative term."

    What's more, although J.C. Penney did get some action from its doorbuster promotions, Lejuez said the company's November same-store sales increase of 10 percent is likely as good as it will get in its fiscal fourth quarter.

    Things are also tough at Target. Telsey said the retailer was seeing a reaction to its revelation last week that a data breach had involved the information of more than 40 million credit and debit card accounts used in its stores.

    "It had to give Wal-Mart an advantage," she said.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Happy New Year! Obama Administration list 141 new regulations in only three days

    1:53 PM 01/03/2014

    Michael Bastasch



    It’s a new year and you know what that means — new regulations. The Obama administration has wasted no time in writing them.

    The website Regulations.gov lists 141 regulations that have been posted by federal agencies in the last three days alone. Of these regulations, 119 are “rulemaking,” meaning they establish a new rule. Twenty-three are “non-rulemaking,” meaning the regulations does not establish a new rule.

    The largest group of regulations have to do with energy and environmental issues, many of them issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. One new EPA regulation is an amendment to a rule on hazardous emissions from lead smelters.

    The EPA has come under fire from lawmakers for cracking down on emissions from coal plants and other carbon-heavy fuels and materials. The agency is also working on 134 major and minor regulations that will take effect in the coming years.

    In particular, the agency is under fire for a rule that will be finalized later this year capping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, effectively banning coal-fired power plants from being built.

    “If these regulations go into effect, American jobs will be lost, electricity prices will soar, and economic uncertainty will grow. We need the federal government to work as a partner, not an adversary, and to invest in America’s energy future,” said West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

    Another new regulation from the Energy Department that has been listed since the new year establishes “test procedures for residential furnace fans.”

    The Energy Department under new leadership from Secretary Ernest Moniz has been less of a lightning rod for controversy, but the department has still been active in pushing for more regulations.

    The Energy Department has 82 regulations listed in its latest Unified Regulatory Agenda for 2013. Many of its new rules have to do with energy efficiency and conservation efforts — a major shift in priorities from President Obama’s first term where the DOE focused on renewable energy development.

    Recently, the DOE announced an agreement with cable providers to improve the efficiency of “pay-TV set-top boxes” that aims to save consumers money and energy.

    “These energy efficiency standards reflect a collaborative approach among the Energy Department, the pay-TV industry and energy efficiency groups — building on more than three decades of common-sense efficiency standards that are saving American families and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars,” Moniz said in a statement. “The set-top box efficiency standards will save families money by saving energy, while delivering high quality appliances for consumers that keep pace with technological innovation.”

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    What Recovery? Sears And J.C. Penney Are DYING

    By Michael Snyder, on January 16th, 2014



    January 16th, 2014

    Two of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy. Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape. Once upon a time, Sears was actually the largest retailer in the United States, and even today Sears and J.C. Penney are "anchor stores" in malls all over the country. When I was growing up, my mother would take me to the mall when it was time to go clothes shopping, and there were usually just two options: Sears or J.C. Penney. When I got older, I actually worked for Sears for a little while. At the time, nobody would have ever imagined that Sears or J.C. Penney could go out of business someday. But that is precisely what is happening. They are both shutting down unprofitable stores and laying off employees in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, but everyone knows that they are just delaying the inevitable. These two great retail giants are dying, and they certainly won't be the last to fall. This is just the beginning.

    The Death Of Sears

    Sales have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row, and the legendary retailer has been closing hundreds of stores and selling off property in a frantic attempt to turn things around.

    Unfortunately for Sears, it is not working. In fact, Sears has announced that it expects to lose "between $250 million to $360 million" for the quarter that will end on February 1st.

    Things have gotten so bad that Sears is even making commercials that openly acknowledge how badly it is struggling. For example, consider the following bit of dialogue from a recent Sears television commercial featuring two young women...

    "Wait, the movie theater is on the other side," the passenger says.

    "But Sears always has parking!" the driver responds.

    Sears always has parking???

    Of course the unspoken admission is that Sears always has parking because nobody shops there anymore.

    I have posted video of the commercial below...

    A couple of months ago I walked into a Sears store in the middle of the week and it was like a ghost town. A few associates were milling around here and there having private discussions among themselves, but other than that it was eerily quiet.

    You can find 18 incredibly depressing photographs which do a great job of illustrating why Sears is steadily dying right here. This was once one of America's greatest companies, but soon it will be dead.

    The Death Of J.C. Penney

    J.C. Penny has been a dead man walking for a long time. In some ways, it is in even worse shape than Sears.

    If you can believe it, J.C. Penney actually lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.

    How in the world do you lose 586 million dollars in three months?

    Are they paying employees to flush giant piles of cash down the toilets?

    This week J.C. Penney announced that it is eliminating 2,000 jobs and closing 33 stores. The following is a list of the store closings that was released to the public...

    Selma, Ala. -- Selma Mall

    Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. -- Arrow Plaza

    Colorado Springs -- Chapel Hills Mall

    Meriden, Conn. -- Meriden Square

    Leesburg, Fla. -- Lake Square Mall

    Port Richey, Fla. -- Gulf View Square

    Muscatine, Iowa -- Muscatine Mall

    Bloomingdale, Ill. -- Stratford Square Mall

    Forsyth, Ill. -- Hickory Point Mall

    Marion, Ind. -- Five Points Mall

    Warsaw, Ind. -- Marketplace Shopping Center

    Salisbury, Md. -- The Centre at Salisbury

    Marquette, Mich. -- Westwood Plaza

    Worthington, Minn. -- Northland Mall

    Gautier, Miss. -- Singing River Mall

    Natchez, Miss. -- Natchez Mall

    Butte, Mont. -- Butte Plaza Shopping Center

    Cut Bank, Mont.

    Kinston, N.C. -- Vernon Park Mall

    Burlington, N.J. -- Burlington Center

    Phillipsburg, N.J. -- Phillipsburg Mall

    Wooster, Ohio -- Wayne Towne Plaza

    Exton, Pa. -- Exton Square Mall

    Hazleton, Pa. -- LaurelMall

    Washington, Pa. -- Washington Mall

    Chattanooga -- Northgate Mall

    Bristol, Va. -- Bristol Mall

    Norfolk, Va. -- Military Circle Mall

    Fond du Lac, Wis., Forest Mall

    Janesville, Wis. -- Janesville Mall

    Rhinelander, Wis. -- Lincoln Plaza Center

    Rice Lake, Wis. -- Cedar Mall

    Wausau, Wis. -- Wausau Mall

    The CEO of J.C. Penney says that these closures were necessary for the future of the company...

    "As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to reexamine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly," CEO Myron Ullman said in a news release.

    Actually, his statement would be a lot more accurate if he replaced "continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth" with " prepare for bankruptcy".

    It would be hard to overstate how much of a disaster 2013 was for J.C. Penney. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNN article...

    It's been a brutal year for J.C. Penney, its stock falling over 60% in the past 12 months. The company has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, and is in the midst of another turnaround effort after ousting former Apple executive Ron Johnson last year.

    Overall, shares of J.C. Penney have fallen by an astounding 84 percent since February 2012. And keep in mind that this decline has happened during one of the greatest stock market rallies of all-time.

    For now, J.C. Penney will continue to try to desperately raise more cash from investors that are foolish enough to give it to them, but all that is really accomplishing is just delaying the inevitable.

    If you would like to see some photos that graphically illustrate why J.C. Penney is falling apart, you can find some right here.

    And of course Sears and J.C. Penney are not the only large retailers that have fallen on hard times. This week the CEO of Best Buy admitted that sales declined at his chain during the holiday season...

    Best Buy shares skid on Thursday after the retailer said total revenue and sales at its established U.S stores fell in the all-important holiday season due to intense discounting by rivals, supply constraints for key products and weak traffic in December.

    In the immediate aftermath of that announcement, Best Buy stock was down more than 30 percent in pre-market trading.

    And Macy's just announced that it is laying off 2,500 employees in an attempt to move in a more profitable direction.

    So why is all of this happening?

    Aren't we supposed to be in the midst of an "economic recovery"?

    That is what the Obama administration and the mainstream media keep telling us, but it is simply not true.

    In fact, a new Gallup survey has found that the number of Americans that are "financially worse off" than a year ago is significantly higher than the number of Americans that say that they are "financially better off" than a year ago...

    More Americans, 42%, say they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, reversing the lower levels found over the past two years. Just more than a third of Americans say their financial situation has improved from a year ago.

    That is why these stores are dying.

    Things continue to get even worse for the middle class.

    But a lot of people out there will continue to deny what is happening right in front of their eyes. They are kind of like that woman over in California who was conned out of half a million dollars by a Nigerian online dating scam. They will never admit the truth until it is far too late to do anything about it.

    So have you been to a Sears or a J.C. Penney lately?

    Do you believe that they will survive?

    Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below...

    http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/a...nney-are-dying

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    The Bearish Call to End All Bearish Calls

    January 3, 2013

    In what may be the bearish call to end all bearish calls, one technician believes 2014 will be the year of “major reversals,” with the Dow Jones Industrial Average expected to start a two-year decline that could eventually take it down more than 70% to below 5000.

    United-ICAP chief market technician Walter Zimmerman said the Dow Industrials could still rally another 4% or so first, to a high around 17150, before the great reversal begins. And for those who thought 2008 was the worst bear market they will ever see, just wait.

    “Based on our longer-term time cycles the present stock market rally must be considered the bubble to end all bubbles,” Mr. Zimmerman wrote in a note to clients.

    He doesn’t believe the Dow Industrials will hit a long-term cycle low until 2016, somewhere in the 5770 to 4650 range. The Dow hasn’t seen those levels, which are 65% to 72% below current prices, since late-1995 to mid-1996.



    Mr. Zimmerman said the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite “should all peak as one” with the Dow Industrials this year, with the S&P 500 potentially rising to 1925 and the Nasdaq to 4540 first, before peaking. He sees the S&P 500 eventually bottoming as low as 450, and the Nasdaq at 1000, in 2016, or 75% and 76%, respectively, below current levels.

    The reversals Mr. Zimmerman is expecting aren’t just in stocks. He believes gold will launch a recovery that takes prices up to $1,631 an ounce. He also believes the 10-year Treasury yield will correct lower and the U.S. dollar will reverse higher at the same time.

    What will it take to prove Mr. Zimmerman wrong? He said a “decisive monthly close above 17150.25″ for the Dow in 2014, and above 1924 for the S&P 500 and 4537 for the Nasdaq, would be needed to derail the bearish scenarios.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    Cars On American Roads Are Older Than Ever

    December 26, 2013

    Vehicles on U.S. roads have never been older, now averaging 11.3 years, as the quality of vehicle construction has improved and the economic slowdown of the past four years combined to keep people in vehicles longer, according to recent research from IHS Automotive.

    The average age of a vehicle will continue to increase over the next few years, but at a slower pace, rising to a forecasted 11.5 years through 2018.

    For car companies, the aging fleet has been good news in the past few years, as it has driven buyers to make new-vehicle purchases, helping the auto industry power through economic uncertainties.

    Each month, automakers would refer to deferred purchases as being the reason why auto sales seemed to defy other shaky economic indicators.

    The average age of vehicles on the road was about 10 years in 2008, but that jumped to 11.3 years at the end of this year. From 2002 through 2007, the average vehicle age increased 4%. From 2008 through today, it rose 14%.

    As the economy worsened in 2008, people decided to hold on to vehicles longer to avoid a big purchase, causing the age of vehicles on the road to increase.

    When the economy began to pick up speed, particularly in the second half of 2011, automakers began talking about the important of the aging fleet to new car sales. Typically, the people with the oldest vehicles would be looking to buy another, newer, used vehicle rather than a new vehicle.

    But used car prices shot up over the last few years, due to the a steep drop off in new-car purchases during the recession, leaving the used car market with a scarcity of slightly-older models that are typically attractive to buyers in this market. Used car prices hit their highest levels in history.

    That made buying a new car more attractive because the spread in payment between a new and used car was so small.

    That wind behind the automakers’ backs may be at an end, now. Vehicle age is slowing as a surge in new car purchases enter the mix and leasing returned to pre-recession levels, meaning used cars are now going to be more readily available.

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    2013 Ends With Weakest Job Growth In Years

    January 10, 2014



    Ouch! The job market suddenly looks a lot weaker than economists' had thought.

    Hiring slumped sharply in December, as the economy added only 74,000 jobs, according to the government. This was the weakest month for job growth since January 2011 and came as a huge surprise to economists, who were expecting an addition of 193,000 jobs.

    For all of 2013, the economy added 2.2 million jobs -- on par with 2012's gains.

    Some economists believe December's weak job gains could be a fluke, given other solid data recently. They expect the government to revise the numbers higher in the months ahead.

    "Just about every other measure of job growth suggests that employers are either hiring or intending to hire, extending hours and laying off fewer people," said Tim Hopper, chief economist for TIAA-CREF.

    "Let's not panic," said Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, adding that "it's not a horrible year, all things considered."

    The government also noted that "unusually cold weather in parts of the country" could have had some impact on construction jobs for example. That sector lost 16,000 jobs in December.

    Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December, but the drop came mainly from workers leaving the labor force.

    Job market dropouts could be doing other things, like retiring, enrolling in educational programs or taking care of relatives. But many have simply given up hope of finding work.

    Only 62.8% of the adult population is participating in the labor market now -- meaning they either have a job or are looking for one. That matches the lowest level since 1978.

    In the job market's 2007 heyday, unemployment was under 5%, but in the two years that followed, the recession wiped out 8.7 million jobs. To this day, not all those jobs have returned.

    "We're going to have a long-term unemployment crisis for a long time," said Heidi Shierholz, economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

    Along those lines, CNNMoney has talked to several people who have been unemployed for a while. Jamie May has been looking for a job for more than a year. Formerly a senior manager for a corporate housing company, she had a comfortable six-figure salary before the recession hit. But since then has been laid off three times.

    "There are days I'm numb," she said. "The mental toll -- the depression -- the feeling of being unworthy and unwanted, after being highly successful. I just want a job."

    Based in Austin, Texas, she has submitted applications for positions around the country, and has even indicated she would be willing to take jobs in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.

    "The feedback is -- 'you're great, you have the credentials, but we want someone who knows the local market.' Or, ' we're concerned you'll leave when the economy picks up and you get a better offer,'" she said.

    Fred Royal in Houston used to work as an administrative assistant for a grocery chain. He lost his job in March, and gets the same message in interviews.

    "Many have said they think I will leave for a better paying job," he said. "Better paying job? I can't even get one job."

    Both May and Royal were among the 1.3 million Americans who received their final check in federal unemployment benefits last week after Congress agreed on a budget that left out the recession-era program. Democrats are pushing for an extension of the program, but Republicans insist on finding a way to pay for it through cost-cutting elsewhere.

    The haggling over budget cuts versus aid to the still fragile economy exemplifies the ongoing tension between Washington policymakers.

    While Congress has largely focused on reducing government spending, the Federal Reserve has been pumping trillions of dollars into the economy in an attempt to help the job market.

    Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will end his second term at the central bank later this month without reaching his goal of "full employment."

    "The recovery clearly remains incomplete," he said in a speech last week, blaming part of the problem on government policy. "Excessively tight near-term fiscal policies have likely been counterproductive," he said.

    The federal government has cut 98,000 jobs over the past three years, not including the Postal Service, which is independently funded but has also been slashing jobs. The Postal Service workforce is around its lowest level since the 1960s.

    Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics forecasts it could take until the end of 2016 to get to a 5.5% unemployment rate. Shierholz calculates it could take even longer to get to a pre-recession job market -- when unemployment was below 5%.

    "Even if we did have 200,000 jobs a month, we would need five years to get there," she said.

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????


    US Lost 2 Million Workers in 2013

    January 10, 2014

    Friday's December jobs report was a major disappointment, showing the economy gained just 74k jobs last month. Economists had expected the economy to gain around 200k jobs. The unemployment rate, however, dropped to 6.7% as 347k frustrated job-seekers gave up and left the labor force. We are in an upside-down world where a drop in the unemployment rate is a bad sign for the economy.

    The overall labor force shrunk dramatically last year. In December 2012, 155.4 million workers had a job or were actively looking for one. Last month, though, 154.9 million were in the labor force, a drop of over 500k Americans.

    It is important to remember that the population grew last year. The US adult population grew by around 2.5 million people. If the labor force were the same percentage of the adult population as last year, 2 million more adults would have jobs or be actively looking for employment. Their disappearance is a drag on the economy.

    Democrats are currently agitating for an extension in long-term unemployment benefits. They have made it a major political fight, most likely to distract from ObamaCare. The real issue, though, is that we even still need long-term unemployment benefits. The recession officially ended over four years ago and the media is bloated with stories about the economic "recovery," yet the job market continues to erode. Democrats ought to be more concerned about creating jobs, rather than mitigate the lack of them.

    Oddly, Democrats are also expected to make a major push to raise the minimum wage, i.e. starting wage. This has few benefits for the overwhelming majority of Americans, as only around 2% of the workforce makes the starting wage. It would like cause a modest increase in prices for consumers, but the biggest impact is in reducing the number of first-time jobs. Lifting the starting wage has a mild negative effect on the overall economy by reducing the number of jobs. These negative effects, however, are concentrated on those trying to enter the labor force.

    The US should pursue policies that help workers enter or reenter the labor force. Erecting barriers to this suggests the nation may shed more workers in 2014.

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    People Not In Labor Force Soar To Record 91.8 Million; Participation Rate Plunges To 1978 Levels

    January 10, 2014

    Curious why despite the huge miss in payrolls the unemployment rate tumbled from 7.0% to 6.7%? The reason is because in December the civilian labor force did what it usually does in the New Normal: it dropped from 155.3 million to 154.9 million, which means the labor participation rate just dropped to a fresh 35 year low, hitting levels not seen since 1978, at 62.8% down from 63.0%.



    And the piece de resistance: Americans not in the labor force exploded higher by 535,000 to a new all time high 91.8 million.



    The jobless, laborless recovery continues to steam on.

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    That’s Rich: Poverty Level Under Obama Breaks 50-Year Record

    January 7, 2014

    Fifty years after President Johnson started a $20 trillion taxpayer-funded war on poverty, the overall percentage of impoverished people in the U.S. has declined only slightly and the poor have lost ground under President Obama.

    Aides said Mr. Obama doesn’t plan to commemorate the anniversary Wednesday of Johnson’s speech in 1964, which gave rise to Medicaid, Head Start and a broad range of other federal anti-poverty programs. The president’s only public event Tuesday was a plea for Congress to approve extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, another reminder of the persistent economic troubles during Mr. Obama’s five years in office.

    “What I think the American people are really looking for in 2014 is just a little bit of stability,” Mr. Obama said.

    Although the president often rails against income inequality in America, his policies have had little impact overall on poverty. A record 47 million Americans receive food stamps, about 13 million more than when he took office.

    The poverty rate has stood at 15 percent for three consecutive years, the first time that has happened since the mid-1960s. The poverty rate in 1965 was 17.3 percent; it was 12.5 percent in 2007, before the Great Recession.

    About 50 million Americans live below the poverty line, which the federal government defined in 2012 as an annual income of $23,492 for a family of four.

    President Obama’s anti-poverty efforts “are basically to give more people more free stuff,” said Robert Rector, a specialist on welfare and poverty at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

    “That’s exactly the opposite of what Johnson said,” Mr. Rector said. “Johnson’s goal was to make people prosperous and self-sufficient.”

    The president’s advisers defend his policies by saying they rescued the nation from the deep recession in 2009, saved the auto industry and reduced the jobless rate to 7 percent from a high of 10 percent four years ago.

    Gene Sperling, the president’s top economic adviser, said Mr. Obama has pulled as many as 9 million people out of poverty with policies such as extending the earned income tax credit for parents with three or more children and reducing the “marriage penalty.”

    “There are things that this president has done that have made a big difference,” Mr. Sperling said Monday.

    The White House again is pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage, this time advocating a Senate bill that would raise the hourly rate to $10.10 from its current $7.25. Mr. Sperling said that action would lift another 6.8 million workers out of poverty.

    “It would make them less dependent on government programs. It would not add to the deficit one penny, but it would reward work and reduce poverty,” he said.

    The president is expected to use his State of the Union address Jan. 20 to pressure Congress to raise the minimum wage. He made the same pitch a year ago.

    Democrats are advocating issues such as unemployment benefits and the minimum wage especially hard this year as the class-warfare rhetoric heats up to frame the congressional midterm elections. House Republican leaders oppose increasing the minimum wage and want unemployment benefits to be paid with savings elsewhere in the budget. Mr. Obama is insisting that the benefits be extended without offsets.

    The president last month declared the widening gap between rich and poor as “the defining challenge of our time,” and Democratic candidates are expected to pick up that theme on the campaign trail rather than debate deficits and the complications of Obamacare.

    In spite of the administration’s anti-poverty efforts, however, the government reported this week that poverty by some measures has been worse under Mr. Obama than it was under President George W. Bush. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 31.6 percent of Americans were in poverty for at least two months from 2009 to 2011, a 4.5 percentage point increase over the pre-recession period of 2005 to 2007.

    Of the 37.6 million people who were poor at the beginning of 2009, 26.4 percent remained in poverty throughout the next 34 months, the report said. Another 12.6 million people escaped poverty during that time, but 13.5 million more fell into poverty.

    Mr. Rector said the war on poverty has been a failure when measured by the overall amount of money spent and poverty rates that haven’t changed significantly since Johnson gave his speech.

    “We’ve spent $20.7 trillion on means-tested aid since that time, and the poverty rate is pretty much exactly where it was in the mid-1960s,” he said.

    The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in a report that some trends have helped reduce poverty since the 1960s, including more Americans completing high school and more women working outside the home. But the group said other factors have contributed to persistent poverty, including a tripling in the number of households led by single parents.

    Mr. Rector said too many government anti-poverty programs still discourage marriage, factoring into statistics that show more than four in 10 children are born to unmarried parents.

    “When the war on poverty started, about 6 percent of children were born outside of marriage,” he said. “Today that’s 42 percent — catastrophe.”

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    White House imposes secrecy rules on first lady's lavish, celebrity-filled birthday party

    By BYRON YORK | JANUARY 20, 2014 AT 8:37 AM



    There was a party in the East Room of the White House Saturday night, an affair attended by a reported 500 people, a lavish celebration with celebrities galore, appearances by some of the world's most popular performers, lots of dancing and powerful government officials, including, of course, the most powerful official of all, the President of the United States. And the White House wants to make sure you know as little as possible about it.

    The event was First Lady Michelle Obama's 50th birthday party. According to reports in People, the Chicago Tribune, TMZ, US Magazine, and elsewhere, among of the attendees were, in no particular order: Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Janelle Monae, Mary J. Blige, Angela Bassett, Courtney Vance, Herbie Hancock, Samuel L. Jackson, Grant Hill, Alonzo Mourning, Ledisi, Emmett Smith, Star Jones, Al Roker, Steve Harvey, Magic Johnson, Billie Jean King, Michael Jordan, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Gayle King, Ahmad Rashad, Kal Penn, and Ashley Judd. Among the current and former government officials attending were Joe Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Rice, Eric Holder, and Kathleen Sebelius.

    It's not easy to enforce discipline on successful, wealthy, and famous people used to having their own way. But the White House apparently did not want to see photos of the first lady's glittery gala circulating around the Internet. So it imposed a strict rule: No cellphones. "Guests were told not to bring cellphones with them, and there was a cellphone check-in area for those who did," reported the Chicago Tribune. "Signs at the party told guests: No cellphones, no social media." People magazine added: "Guests had been greeted by a 'cell phone check' table where they deposited their camera phones on arrival and it was understood that this was not an occasion for Tweeting party photos or Facebooking details." The publications cited sources who insisted on anonymity for fear of White House reprisal.

    "So great was the secrecy surrounding the party," the Tribune reported, "that guests were handed an invitation — on their way out, the sources said."

    So far, the crackdown appears to have been a success. Although a few attendees have tweeted that they had a great time, or that they danced until their feet could take no more, the Web has not been filled with photos of the first lady's extravagant celebration. Perhaps some will appear; maybe the White House will even release an official photo. But it's unlikely the public will see much.

    Why the secrecy, especially for an event involving so many well-known people? Maybe the Obamas just wanted a little privacy for an important occasion in the first lady's life, although having 500 guests, including some of the most famous people on the planet, is perhaps not the best way to achieve that goal. Or maybe, since the president has announced he is devoting the rest of his time in office to an "inequality agenda," the White House felt photos of a champagne-soaked, star-studded party would be somewhat off-message. But the Obamas are well-off, accomplished people. They can have a big party if they want (and if they pay for it). Why hide it?

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    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    German Legislator Seeks Repatriation Of All The Bundesbank’s Gold

    By wkchild on • ( 1 )
    from Gold Core:
    The Bundesbank plans to repatriate 30 to 50 metric tons of gold stored in New York this year under a plan to repatriate home half of its bullion reserves held abroad.
    The central bank transferred 32 tons of gold from Paris and five tons from New York last year, according to a Bundesbank spokesman. The bank expects to repatriate the reserves at a pace of about 50 tons a year. The Bundesbank said a year ago it will repatriate 674 tons of gold from vaults in Paris and New York by 2020 to restore public confidence in the security of Germany’s reserves. The stockpile is worth $27.2 billion in current prices.
    Read More @ GoldCore.com
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    Roubini Doom Scenario: It Looks Like 1914 Again

    January 23, 2014

    With many parts of the world gearing up to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, Nouriel Roubini has solidified his hold on the title "Dr. Doom" by suggesting parallels between 2014 and 1914.

    There may be no Austro-Hungarian empire or Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but Roubini tweeted this from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos today:

    Tweet one:
    #wef14 many speakers compare 2014 to 1914 when WWI broke out & no one expected it. A black swan in the form of a war between China & Japan?
    — Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel) January 23, 2014

    He then tweeted some of the reasoning behind this train of thought.

    Tweet two:

    #wef14 Echoes of 1914: backlash against globalization, gilded age of inequality, rising geopolitical tensions, ignoring tail risks
    — Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel) January 23, 2014

    While Roubini is renowned for his bubble warnings and doom scenarios, his concerns weren't drawn out of thin air, but rather taken mainly from the lips of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    According to reports from both The Financial Times and BBC, Abe said on Wednesday that China and Japan were in a "similar situation" to that of Britain and Germany ahead of World War One.

    However, Reuters reported that Abe's top spokesman denied the Japanese leader meant war was possible or imminent, which is unthinkable for many.

    Still, Abe said that China's increase in military spending was a source of instability in the region and he reiterated his calls for a military hotline to avert a conflict. In November, China tried to impose an air defense zone over a small collection of islands in the East China Sea, which the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands while the Chinese refer to them as Diaoyu.

    Abe himself is a hawk. Back in December, he visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's wartime dead, including those who committed atrocities during the country's march across Asia during the Second World War.

    There are other areas of concern in the rest of the world for those seemingly keen to compare 2014 to 1914: the on-going Syrian civil war and its ramifications for the Middle East, as well as the future of Iran's place in the international community.

    Furthermore, the current protests in Kiev and Ukraine's pro-EU or pro-Russia dilemma raise questions over the rising power of Russia and how Western powers deal with this.

    Yet Roubini also mentioned the twin problems of a "backlash against globalization" and a "gilded age of inequality." The latter has been a watchword at Davos this year and has become the key focus of President Barack Obama's final term in office. In a speech to a think-tank in Washington D.C. last month, Obama described it as the "defining issue of our time."

    Perhaps 1914 isn't a good comparison, but rather 1848 and 1968 could be: the former a year of revolutions across Europe; the latter a year of socialist, communist and student protests in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy and the USSR. Will 2014 be the year when there is a growing backlash against the prevailing status quo and rising income inequalities?

    Of course, it is worth noting that the written history of World War One has come under much scrutiny in recent months, as politicians and historians debate over revisionist theories and nationalistic fervor.

    As Joseph Nye, a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense, has written: "Among the lessons to be learned from the events of 1914 is to be wary of analysts wielding historical analogies, particularly if they have a whiff of inevitability."

    "War is never inevitable, though the belief that it is can become one of its causes."

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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Quote Originally Posted by vector7 View Post

    The Retail Death Rattle

    January 20, 2014

    Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform blog,

    “I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don’t want, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.” - Emile Gauvreau

    If ever a chart provided unequivocal proof the economic recovery storyline is a fraud, the one below is the smoking gun. November and December retail sales account for 20% to 40% of annual retail sales for most retailers. The number of visits to retail stores has plummeted by 50% since 2010. Please note this was during a supposed economic recovery. Also note consumer spending accounts for 70% of GDP. Also note credit card debt outstanding is 7% lower than its level in 2010 and 16% below its peak in 2008. Retailers like J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Sears, Radio Shack and Barnes & Noble continue to report appalling sales and profit results, along with listings of store closings. Even the heavyweights like Wal-Mart and Target continue to report negative comp store sales. How can the government and mainstream media be reporting an economic recovery when the industry that accounts for 70% of GDP is in free fall? The answer is that 99% of America has not had an economic recovery. Only Bernanke’s 1% owner class have benefited from his QE/ZIRP induced stock market levitation.



    The entire economic recovery storyline is a sham built upon easy money funneled by the Fed to the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks so they can use their HFT supercomputers to drive the stock market higher, buy up the millions of homes they foreclosed upon to artificially drive up home prices, and generate profits through rigging commodity, currency, and bond markets, while reducing loan loss reserves because they are free to value their toxic assets at anything they please – compliments of the spineless nerds at the FASB. GDP has been artificially propped up by the Federal government through the magic of EBT cards, SSDI for the depressed and downtrodden, never ending extensions of unemployment benefits, billions in student loans to University of Phoenix prodigies, and subprime auto loans to deadbeats from the Government Motors financing arm – Ally Financial (85% owned by you the taxpayer). The country is being kept afloat on an ocean of debt and delusional belief in the power of central bankers to steer this ship through a sea of icebergs just below the surface.

    The absolute collapse in retail visitor counts is the warning siren that this country is about to collide with the reality Americans have run out of time, money, jobs, and illusions. The most amazingly delusional aspect to the chart above is retailers continued to add 44 million square feet in 2013 to the almost 15 billion existing square feet of retail space in the U.S. That is approximately 47 square feet of retail space for every person in America. Retail CEOs are not the brightest bulbs in the sale bin, as exhibited by the CEO of Target and his gross malfeasance in protecting his customers’ personal financial information. Of course, the 44 million square feet added in 2013 is down 85% from the annual increases from 2000 through 2008. The exponential growth model, built upon a never ending flow of consumer credit and an endless supply of cheap fuel, has reached its limit of growth. The titans of Wall Street and their puppets in Washington D.C. have wrung every drop of faux wealth from the dying middle class. There are nothing left but withering carcasses and bleached bones.

    The impact of this retail death spiral will be vast and far reaching. A few factoids will help you understand the coming calamity:



    • There are approximately 109,500 shopping centers in the United States ranging in size from the small convenience centers to the large super-regional malls.
    • There are in excess of 1 million retail establishments in the United States occupying 15 billion square feet of space and generating over $4.4 trillion of annual sales. This includes 8,700 department stores, 160,000 clothing & accessory stores, and 8,600 game stores.
    • U.S. shopping-center retail sales total more than $2.26 trillion, accounting for over half of all retail sales.
    • The U.S. shopping-center industry directly employed over 12 million people in 2010 and indirectly generated another 5.6 million jobs in support industries. Collectively, the industry accounted for 12.7% of total U.S. employment.
    • Total retail employment in 2012 totaled 14.9 million, lower than the 15.1 million employed in 2002.
    • For every 100 individuals directly employed at a U.S. regional shopping center, an additional 20 to 30 jobs are supported in the community due to multiplier effects.


    The collapse in foot traffic to the 109,500 shopping centers that crisscross our suburban sprawl paradise of plenty is irreversible.
    No amount of marketing propaganda, 50% off sales, or hot new iGadgets is going to spur a dramatic turnaround. Quarter after quarter there will be more announcements of store closings. Macys just announced the closing of 5 stores and firing of 2,500 retail workers. JC Penney just announced the closing of 33 stores and firing of 2,000 retail workers. Announcements are imminent from Sears, Radio Shack and a slew of other retailers who are beginning to see the writing on the wall. The vacancy rate will be rising in strip malls, power malls and regional malls, with the largest growing sector being ghost malls. Before long it will appear that SPACE AVAILABLE is the fastest growing retailer in America.



    The reason this death spiral cannot be reversed is simply a matter of arithmetic and demographics. While arrogant hubristic retail CEOs of public big box mega-retailers added 2.7 billion retail square feet to our already over saturated market, real median household income flat lined. The advancement in retail spending was attributable solely to the $1.1 trillion increase (68%) in consumer debt and the trillion dollars of home equity extracted from castles in the sky, that later crashed down to earth. Once the Wall Street created fraud collapsed and the waves of delusion subsided, retailers have been revealed to be swimming naked. Their relentless expansion, based on exponential growth, cannibalized itself, new store construction ground to a halt, sales and profits have declined, and the inevitable closing of thousands of stores has begun. With real median household income 8% lower than it was in 2008, the collapse in retail traffic is a rational reaction by the impoverished 99%. Americans are using their credit cards to pay their real estate taxes, income taxes, and monthly utilities, since their income is lower, and their living expenses rise relentlessly, thanks to Bernanke and his Fed created inflation.



    The media mouthpieces for the establishment gloss over the fact average gasoline prices in 2013 were the second highest in history. The highest average price was in 2012 and the 3rd highest average price was in 2011. These prices are 150% higher than prices in the early 2000′s. This might not matter to the likes of Jamie Dimon and Jon Corzine, but for a middle class family with two parents working and making 7.5% less than they made in 2000, it has a dramatic impact on discretionary income. The fact oil prices have risen from $25 per barrel in 2003 to $100 per barrel today has not only impacted gas prices, but utility costs, food costs, and the price of any product that needs to be transported to your local Wally World. The outrageous rise in tuition prices has been aided and abetted by the Federal government and their doling out of loans so diploma mills like the University of Phoenix can bilk clueless dupes into thinking they are on their way to an exciting new career, while leaving them jobless in their parents’ basement with a loan payment for life.



    The laughable jobs recovery touted by Obama, his sycophantic minions, paid off economist shills, and the discredited corporate legacy media can be viewed appropriately in the following two charts, that reveal the false storyline being peddled to the techno-narcissistic iGadget distracted masses. There are 247 million working age Americans between the ages of 18 and 64. Only 145 million of these people are employed. Of these employed, 19 million are working part-time and 9 million are self- employed. Another 20 million are employed by the government, producing nothing and being sustained by the few remaining producers with their tax dollars. The labor participation rate is the lowest it has been since women entered the workforce in large numbers during the 1980′s. We are back to levels seen during the booming Carter years. Those peddling the drivel about retiring Baby Boomers causing the decline in the labor participation rate are either math challenged or willfully ignorant because they are being paid to be so. Once you turn 65 you are no longer counted in the work force. The percentage of those over 55 in the workforce has risen dramatically to an all-time high, as the Me Generation never saved for retirement or saw their retirement savings obliterated in the Wall Street created 2008 financial implosion.



    To understand the absolute idiocy of retail CEOs across the land one must parse the employment data back to 2000. In the year 2000 the working age population of the U.S. was 213 million and 136.9 million of them were working, a record level of 64.4% of the population. There were 70 million working age Americans not in the labor force. Fourteen years later the number of working age Americans is 247 million and only 144.6 million are working. The working age population has risen by 16% and the number of employed has risen by only 5.6%. That’s quite a success story. Of course, even though median household income is 7.5% lower than it was in 2000, the government expects you to believe that 22 million Americans voluntarily left the labor force because they no longer needed a job. While the number of employed grew by 5.6% over fourteen years, the number of people who left the workforce grew by 31.1%. Over this same time frame the mega-retailers that dominate the landscape added almost 3 billion square feet of selling space, a 25% increase. A critical thinking individual might wonder how this could possibly end well for the retail genius CEOs in glistening corporate office towers from coast to coast.




    This entire materialistic orgy of consumerism has been sustained solely with debt peddled by the Wall Street banking syndicate. The average American consumer met their Waterloo in 2008. Bernanke’s mission was to save bankers, billionaires and politicians. It was not to save the working middle class. You’ve been sacrificed at the altar of the .1%. The 0% interest rates were for Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Your credit card interest rate remained between 13% and 21%. So, while you struggle to pay bills with your declining real income, the Wall Street bankers are again generating record profits and paying themselves record bonuses. Profits are so good, they can afford to pay tens of billions in fines for their criminal acts, and still be left with billions to divvy up among their non-prosecuted criminal executives.

    Bernanke and his financial elite owners have been able to rig the markets to give the appearance of normalcy, but they cannot rig the demographic time bomb that will cause the death and destruction of our illusory retail paradigm. Demographics cannot be manipulated or altered by the government or mass media. The best they can do is ignore or lie about the facts. The life cycle of a human being is utterly predictable, along with their habits across time. Those under 25 years old have very little income, therefore they have very little spending. Once a job is attained and income levels rise, spending rises along with the increased income. As the person enters old age their income declines and spending on stuff declines rapidly. The media may be ignoring the fact that annual expenditures drop by 40% for those over 65 years old from the peak spending years of 45 to 54, but it doesn’t change the fact. They also cannot change the fact that 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next sixteen years. They also can’t change the fact the average Baby Boomer has less than $50,000 saved for retirement and is up to their grey eye brows in debt.




    With over 15% of all 25 to 34 year olds living in their parents’ basement and those under 25 saddled with billions in student loan debt, the traditional increase in income and spending is DOA for the millennial generation. The hardest hit demographic on the job front during the 2008 through 2014 ongoing recession has been the 45 to 54 year olds in their peak earning and spending years. Combine these demographic developments and you’ve got a perfect storm for over-built retailers and their egotistical CEOs.

    The media continues to peddle the storyline of on-line sales saving the ancient bricks and mortar retailers. Again, the talking head pundits are willfully ignoring basic math. On-line sales account for 6% of total retail sales. If a dying behemoth like JC Penney announces a 20% decline in same store sales and a 20% increase in on-line sales, their total change is still negative 17.6%. And they are still left with 1,100 decaying stores, 100,000 employees, lease payments, debt payments, maintenance costs, utility costs, inventory costs, and pension costs. Their future is so bright they gotta wear a toe tag.

    The decades of mal-investment in retail stores was enabled by Greenspan, Bernanke, and their Federal Reserve brethren. Their easy money policies enabled Americans to live far beyond their true means through credit card debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, and home equity debt. This false illusion of wealth and foolish spending led mega-retailers to ignore facts and spread like locusts across the suburban countryside. The debt fueled orgy has run out of steam. All that is left is the largest mountain of debt in human history, a gutted and debt laden former middle class, and thousands of empty stores in future decaying ghost malls haunting the highways and byways of suburbia.

    The implications of this long and winding road to ruin are far reaching. Store closings so far have only been a ripple compared to the tsunami coming to right size the industry for a future of declining spending. Over the next five to ten years, tens of thousands of stores will be shuttered. Companies like JC Penney, Sears and Radio Shack will go bankrupt and become historical footnotes. Considering retail employment is lower today than it was in 2002 before the massive retail expansion, the future will see in excess of 1 million retail workers lose their jobs. Bernanke and the Feds have allowed real estate mall owners to roll over non-performing loans and pretend they are generating enough rental income to cover their loan obligations. As more stores go dark, this little game of extend and pretend will come to an end. Real estate developers will be going belly-up and the banking sector will be taking huge losses again. I’m sure the remaining taxpayers will gladly bailout Wall Street again. The facts are not debatable. They can be ignored by the politicians, Ivy League economists, media talking heads, and the willfully ignorant masses, but they do not cease to exist.

    “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”Aldous Huxley

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    Big correction???


    Market Snapshot Archives | Email alerts
    Jan. 24, 2014, 12:52 p.m. EST
    U.S. stocks sell off; Dow’s losses near 200 points

    Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble rally after earnings


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    By Anora Mahmudova, MarketWatch
    NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stock fell sharply Friday, pushing the Dow industrials below 16,000 at one point, as a global rush out of stocks and emerging-markets currencies deepened, while company earnings offered investors little respite.
    Main indexes are headed for steep weekly losses. The S&P 500 SPX -1.35% fell 23.24 points, or 1.3%, to 1,804.33 and is set to record its second straight week of losses.
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    The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -1.24% dropped 197.7 points, or 1.2%, to 16,002.24 and is headed for a steep weekly loss. It traded below 16,000 for the first time since Dec. 18.
    The Nasdaq Composite COMP -1.60% lost 59.54 points, or 1.4%, to 4,159.50 and on track to record a weekly loss after two weeks of gains. Over the course of the week, the tech-heavy index has wiped out its early 2014 gains. Follow the U.S. markets on the live blog
    Investors began selling stocks heavily and riskier assets such as emerging-markets currencies on Thursday following weak Chinese economic data. Main indexes on Wall Street sold off, prompting some analysts to call it the beginning of a long-awaited correction.
    Adding to the pressure from emerging markets, Argentina on Friday loosened restrictions on purchases of U.S. dollars after it devalued the peso.
    “We think the flight to quality will continue, as investors realize how much profit they have made in the S&P 500 last year. This kind of selling could well be a spark for the correction,” said Uri Landesman, president at Platinum Management.
    Investors digested earnings results from several heavyweights in a day with no U.S. economic data.
    Kimberly Clark Corp. KMB +2.32% announced its fourth-quarter earnings jumped to $539 million, or $1.40 per share, beating analysts’ expectations. Shares in the consumer-goods company rose 2.8%.
    Procter & Gamble Corp.’s PG +2.75% profit fell, but its core earnings beat expectations. Shares in Procter & Gamble rallied 2.8%.
    Honeywell International Inc. HON -0.51% shares fell in a choppy trade and were down 0.2% as the company’s quarterly earnings missed expectations.
    Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. BMY -3.88% reversed earlier gains and dropped 3.7% soon after the pharmaceutical company reported a better-than-expected rise in revenue and earnings.
    Shares in Care.com CRCM +35.94% jumped 34% on their debut, after the non-medical-care management company sold shares at $17, the higher range of its initial offer.
    Shares of Microsoft MSFT +2.93% MSFT +2.93% bucked a weaker tech tone, up 2.9% after the company beat Wall Street estimates with fourth-quarter results.
    Shares of Starbucks SBUX +2.86% were up 3.2% as the coffee giant posted a 25% rise in profit, though sales missed Wall Street’s targets.
    EBay Inc. EBAY -1.00% fell 0.47% after Carl Icahn said he is ready for a proxy fight to win two seats on the board of the online auctioneer, with the intent of pushing eBay to spin off PayPal.
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    Business

    Russia, US to Discuss Sharing Financial Information

    Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov
    © RIA Novosti. Sergei Guneev


    06:07 25/01/2014
    Tags: offshores, tax evasion, US-Russia relations, FATCA, Anton Siluanov, United States, Russia
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    MOSCOW, January 25 (RIA Novosti) – Russian and American tax officials will meet in Paris next week to discuss a financial information sharing regime, Russia’s finance minister told reporters Friday.
    “We have a few reservations on the Russian side. There are still some points to agree on with our American counterparts,” Anton Siluanov said.
    Russia began discussions last year to join the United States’ 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which is aimed at reducing off-shore tax evasion.
    The law requires foreign banks and financial institutions to report data on clients who are American taxpayers to US authorities.
    The provisions, slated to come into force at the end of June, have been agreed to by 14 countries, according to the Treasury Department’s website.
    The Russian Foreign Ministry in November objected to the imposition of American law on Russian banks, but supported the idea of “mutual and balanced” information sharing.
    The act, which enables the United States to force foreign banks to remit tax payments from accounts owned by American taxpayers, also has a provision for reciprocity with countries that sign an intergovernmental agreement.
    Earlier reports indicated that Russia’s Central Bank was planning on postponing accession until 2016, but in November Alexei Simanovsky, a head official at the bank, said the agreement would come into force this year.
    The United States is one of only a handful of countries that levy taxes on the worldwide income of their citizens even if they live abroad.
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    Default Re: Financial Crisis - 2013 - ????

    Walmart to Lay Off 2,300 Sam's Club Employees


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    by Warner Todd Huston 26 Jan 2014 358 post a comment
    Walmart has announced that it is laying off up to 2,300 employees from Sam's Club, its members-only, bulk sales outlet stores.

    The bulk of the layoffs will be made up of lower management. Walmart said in a press release that the move to cut assistant managers is an effort to make the company "more nimble." Other positions, such a telephone attendants, will also be eliminated in an effort to bring down costs.


    Several US retailers slashed fourth-quarter profit forecasts after holiday sales were disappointing and by some reports, Walmart itself is said to have the worst gross profit margin of its peers.


    This, on top of reports of credit card data breaches spreading through the retail sector, has US retailers in a state of alarm.


    Sam's Club employs about 116,000 employees nationwide and, according to the company's fact sheet, is by itself the eight largest retailer in the nation by annual net sales.
    The discount chain has 621 stores with its first opened in Midwest City, Oklahoma, in 1983.


    The layoffs will affect about four employees per store. Laid off employees will be allowed 60 days to find a berth at another Walmart store and, if unsuccessful, they will be eligible for a severance package.


    Despite this adjustment, Sam's Club plans on opening 15 new stores in 2014.


    In its press release, Sam's Club noted that the layoffs affect two percent of its workforce.
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    I know at the couple around me they've installed self checkout lanes which are very handy when you go in for a couple items and don't want to deal with the regular lines.

    Now, if they could just layoff the stupid receipt checkers...

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