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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Braves living without homes in the land of the free - back to teepees?

A Hidden America: Living in Cars, Tents and Cheap Motels *Video Report*

Mac Slavo
November 29th, 2011
Comments (205)
The following must-see 60 Minutes segment further highlights the deteriorating economic conditions across the United States.
It turns out some families are losing their grip on the motels and discovering that the homesless shelters are full. Where do they go then? They try to keep up appearances by day and try to stay out of sight at night – holding on to one another in a hidden America, a place you wouldn’t notice unless you ran into the people we met in the moments before dawn.

There are millions of Americans right now that are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Inevitably, as things get worse, many more will join those who have already been forced to abandon their old lifestyles to live in short-term low cost motels, homeless shelters, tent cities or in their cars. To be sure, some of those living on the streets made mistakes and poor decisions that have brought them where they are today. Others, however, are the collateral damage from a government run amok and the decades long unfettered sociopathic thievery of law abiding hard working Americans.

The longevity of homelessness continues to rise. So people are running out of resources. The unemployment runs out. Their savings run out. The family that lent them money does not have it anymore because they are looking at economic hardship. And, before you know it, they find themselves living in their car because they just ran out of all options.

For those whose timetable for economic collapse lies at some arbitrary time in the future, take a serious look at what’s happening around you. Millions have lost their homes. Even more have lost their jobs. Those who are still spending are doing so with the money they have left in their savings or the available credit left on their charge cards. Record numbers of people are living in poverty and the same is true for those seeking food assistance from the government. The collapse is here. It’s staring us in the face. It can’t be ignored. And, it’s not even close to being over.
None of us will remain untouched by the events playing out in the world around us. We can take steps to prepare to the best of our abilities, but circumstances may get the better of us. If and when hard times befall us – and there’s a strong possibility they will – and the seemingly uncontrollable feelings of helplessness and failure take hold, we can only hope to have the strength, optimism and realistic perspective of the 15 year old girl featured in the 60 Minutes story:

It’s not really that much of an embarrassment. It’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?

Hat tip John Rolls

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Euro Doom? European End Game now in sight!

Two Possible Outcomes For the European End Game

Phoenix Capital Research's picture

With the European End Game now in sight, the primary question that needs to be addressed is whether Europe will opt for a period of massive deflation, massive inflation, or deflation followed by inflation.

Indeed, with Europe’s entire banking system insolvent (even German banks need to be recapitalized to the tune of over $171 billion) the outcome for Europe is only one of two options:

1)   Massive debt restructuring
2)   Monetization of everything/ hyperinflation

These are the realities facing Europe today (and eventually Japan and the US). Either way we are talking about the destruction of tens of trillions of Euros in wealth. The issue is which poison the European powers that be choose.

Personally, I believe we are going to see a combination of the two with deflation hitting all EU countries first and then serious inflation or hyperinflation hitting peripheral players and the PIIGS.

In terms of how we get there, I believe that in the next 14 months, the following will occur.

1)   Germany and possibly France exit the Euro
2)   ALL PIIGS defaulting on their debt
3)   Potential hyperinflation in the PIIGS and peripheral EU countries

Regarding #1, we are already beginning to see hints of this development in the press:


Ministers are understood to be deeply concerned that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel are secretly plotting to build a new, slimmed down Eurozone without Greece, Italy and other debt-ridden southern European nations.

Well-placed Brussels sources say Germany and France have already held private discussions on preparing for the disintegration of the Eurozone.


German and French officials have discussed plans for a radical overhaul of the European Union that would involve setting up a more integrated and potentially smaller Euro zone, EU sources say.

"France and Germany have had intense consultations on this issue over the last months, at all levels," a senior EU official in Brussels told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.

"We need to move very cautiously, but the truth is that we need to establish exactly the list of those who don't want to be part of the club and those who simply cannot be part," the official said.

With no one willing to foot the bill for the EFSF the markets are hoping Germany will step in and save the day. However, the German constitution forbids Germany from backing Euro-bonds.

            German EconMin: court verdict rules out Euro bonds

German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said on Thursday the constitutional court's ruling on Euro aid made it clear that joint Euro zone bonds were not an option.

Addressing left-wing opposition parties in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, Roesler said: "You continue to talk up Euro bonds although the constitutional court yesterday made it clear that as transfer union such as the one you propose on the left will never be possible, never be allowed."

"We don't want it politically, either, and we will not let the German taxpayer be obliged to pay for the debt of other countries," he said in a parliamentary budget debate.

Moreover, Germans will simply not permit the monetization of debt. Weimar’s hyperinflation happened in the early 1920s and is still fresh in the memories of the German people (those who lived through it undoubtedly told their children and grandchildren about it). So the German people will not tolerate price instability in any form.

Germany is not alone in having little or no desire to attempt to backstop the system. Indeed, NONE of the G20 countries wish to support the EFSF from a monetary standpoint (yet another sign that the bailout game is ending).

            No new Euro zone money for debt crisis at G20

The Euro zone won verbal support but no new money at a G20 summit on Friday for its tortured efforts to overcome a sovereign debt crisis, while Italy was effectively placed under IMF supervision.

Leaders of the world's major economies, meeting on the French Riviera, told Europe to sort out its own problems and deferred until next year any move to provide more crisis-fighting resources to the International Monetary Fund.

"There are hardly any countries here which said they were ready to go along with the EFSF (Euro zone rescue fund)," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference.

So… everyone claims they want to support the EFSF… but no one wants to commit the money. Moreover, Germany’s constitution forbids the backing of Euro bonds… and the EFSF itself has failed to stage even a three billion Euro bond offering under normal market conditions.

Again, the bailout game is ending. Under these conditions, I believe Germany and France will push to either:

1)   Leave the EU
2)   Draft legislation that allows countries to leave the Euro but remain in the EU
3)   Propose kicking out the PIIGS from the Euro

Whichever one of these options Germany opts for, the Euro will collapse. Indeed, the primary reason the Euro has been rallying since October is due to French banks and others selling assets (buying Euros) to recapitalize themselves.

Put another way, the Euro rally is in fact NOT a sign of currency strength. Instead, it is a sign that the major players are moving to cash (Euros) in an attempt to lower their exposure to PIIGS’ debt.

Indeed, if we look at the bond or credit markets, it’s clear we’re into a Crisis far greater than 2008. Forget the stock market rally. Stocks ALWAYS get it last (just like in 2008). And before the smoke clears on this mess we’re going to see sovereign defaults, bank holidays, riots, and more.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

From Economic Collapse in 2011 to Economic Doom in 2012???

Echoes of the Great Depression: Dow has worst Thanksgiving week since 1932

November 25, 2011 – NEW YORK – Stocks closed in negative territory in thin, shortened trading Friday as investors were reluctant to go long ahead of the weekend and amid ongoing worries over the euro zone. The Dow and S&P posted their worst Thanksgiving week since the Great Depression on a percentage basis. “Again, we’re trading on very thin volume—You’re going to have continued downward pressure over the next 30 days,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt Trading. “It’s very difficult to be long this market because you have so many issues—there’s more potential for negative headlines than positive ones.” In Europe, S&P downgraded Belgium one notch to AA from AA-plus, further underscoring worries over the euro zone debt contagion. Earlier, EU officials said euro zone member states were discussing dropping private sector involvement from the permanent bailout mechanism. An Italian T-bill auction offered a fresh indication of investors’ lack of confidence in the country’s newly-appointed government and broader fears that the euro zone debt crisis cannot be contained. Yields shot up to new euro era highs. -CNBC  excerpt
Do not pass go- do not collect $200The financial system that underpins the Eurozone is, itself, unraveling. A slew of downgrades by Western rating agencies leveled at sovereign countries have made the risk of borrowing in the face of rising bond yields that much riskier. This week, Portugal credit rating was slashed to junk status by Fitch. Similarly, this week, Hungary was downgraded to junk by Moody’s. Today, the hammer also fell on Belgium as its credit rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor from AA+ to AA. France could be next and still more nations like the UK could follow where debt to GDP ratio is already pushing 65%. It goes without saying that there are inertia forces at work, whether by design or circumstance, to unravel the financial skeleton whereby European countries swap loans between each other and trade debts to service the Euro. -The Extinction Protocol
Financial doomsday looms for 2012: The good news is that if we get through 2012 without the financial collapse of a big bank or a Eurozone government, our economy will probably muddle through, flatlining rather than falling back into acute recession. The bad news is that 2012 is the year of greatest risk that a bloated bank or over-extended government will be unable to repay its debts – because it is a year when a frightening volume of the loans that were taken out in the boom years fall due for repayment. In private equity, for example, much of the money that was borrowed to finance the buyouts of big companies from 2005-7 has to be paid back in the coming year. In practice, it would mean replacing old debts with new debts – borrowing new money to repay existing creditors. That said, the amount of debt maturing for private-equity owned companies pales into insignificance compared with the debts of banks that have to be repaid or refinanced in 2012. -BBC 
Spain is crumbling: No one has grasped yet the seriousness of where this crisis is at. For all practical purposes, Spain is already in a depression. Spain’s unemployment rate is already 22%- 3 points from the peak high seen in the U.S. during the Great Depression in 1933: “From an estimated annual rate of 3.3 percent during 1923-29, the unemployment rate rose to a peak of about 25 percent in 1933.  The economy reached its trough in 1933; but although unemployment had reached its peak, economic recovery was slow, hesitant, and far from complete.”  In 1930 the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent, or equal to today.  By 1931 it was nearly 16 percent.  Then, after peaking at nearly 25 percent in 1933, the unemployment rate slowly abated…yet it was still nearly 15 percent in 1940. 1
Spain’s mounting woes: The fact that Spain hasn’t collapsed yet, faces a record amount of sovereign debt, and has very high bond yields means unemployment could go even higher than a 30 or 35% percentile range. I don’t think anyone is quite prepared yet for adverse economic conditions where up to a full one-third of a country’s citizenry is unemployed. High unemployment was just one characteristic of the Great Depression of the 1930′s- we are already starting to see others. On November 21, (the same day this video aired) the Bank of Spain took over Banco de Valencia, making it the latest casualty of the collapse in Spain’s property boom and the first retail bank to seek a bailout. Since the start of Spain’s financial crisis, the central bank has taken control of three savings banks – CCM, Cajasur and Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo (CAM), which is due to be sold off in auction by mid-December.There may be three other banks teetering on the brink –The Extinction Protocol
contribution Luisport

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wars and Rumors of wars - Russia sabre rattling over Syria attack?

Russia Retaliates Against US: Puts Radar Station On Combat Alert, Prepares To Take Out European Missile Defense Systems

Tyler Durden's picture

Earlier today, we presented the latest developments in the escalating possibility of an imminent air (and potentially land) campaign targeting Syria by the "western world", a move that would infuriate not only Iran, but also Russia and China, both of which have made it clear they would not sit idly by and let such an "aggression" stand. Now it is Russia's turn to retaliate. Cutting straight to the chase - in a nationally televized appearance by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev: in response to what the Russian believes is an active incursion and a potential act of eventual aggression on behalf of NATO countries in Eastern Europe (and hence the US), he he said the following (7 minutes in): "First, I am instructing the Defense Ministry to immediately put the missile attack early warning radar station in Kaliningrad on combat alertSecond, protective cover of Russia's strategic nuclear weapons, will be reinforced as a priority measure under the programme to develop out air and space defensesThird, the new strategic ballistic missiles commissioned by the Strategic Missile Forces and the Navy will be equipped with advanced missile defense penetration systems and new highly-effective warheads.Fourth, I have instructed the Armed Forces to draw up measures for disabling missile defense system data and guidance systems if need be... Fifth, if the above measures prove insufficient, the Russian Federation will deploy modern offensive weapon systems in the west and south of the country, ensuring our ability to take out any part of the US missile defense system, in Europe. One step in this process will be to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Region. Other measures to counter the European missile defense system will be drawn up and implemented as necessary. Furthermore, if the situation continues to develop not in Russia's favor we reserve the right to discontinue further disarmament and arms control measures. Besides, given the intrinsic link between strategic offensive and defensive arms, conditions for our withdrawal from the New START Treaty could also arise." That said, he concludes that Russia is still open to dialog. However, if Obama merely intends to bomb any nation at will, we are very much concerned that everything Medvedev has just threatened will be enacted. And exponentially more so when Putin comes back in charge. One thing is certain - Russia is not North Korea, and taking this speech for more empty jawboning is probably not the wisest option.
Full must watch address to the public: for English closed captioning hit the CC button.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Coming Cyber-Attacks - are they here already???

Infrastructure Cyber Attack: “We Don’t Know How Many Other Utilities Are Compromised”

Mac Slavo
November 19th, 2011
Comments (109)
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We’ve written extensively about the threat within the utility infrastructure of the United States for quite some time. In April of 2011 we noted that staggering security holes exist in our power, water, and oil grid infrastructure and two months ago commander ofU.S. cyber command General Keith Alexander warned that strikes designed to disrupt computer operations and “lethal attacks that destroy entire systems and physical equipment” would specifically target not just our utility grids, but commerce and transportation systems.
For many, these scenarios are hypothetical science fiction.
The latest incident in Illinois proves this is no longer the case, as security experts have determined that foreign hackers, likely originating from Russia, have compromised our water utility grid and figured out a way to shut down water pump systems in a manner similar to that in which the Stuxnet worm destroyed Iranian centrifuges last year. The threat is now reality:
Foreign hackers broke into a water plant control system in Illinois last week and damaged a water pump in what appears to be the first reported case of a malicious cyber attack damaging a critical computer system in the United States, according to an industry expert.

Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs, said that thecomputers that control critical systems in the United States are vulnerable to attacks that come through the Internet, and few operators of these systems know how to detect them. “So many are ill-prepared for cyber attacks,” Marcus said.
Problems with the system in Springfield had been observed for two to three months and recently the system “would power on and off, resulting in the burnout of a water pump,” the Nov. 10 report from the statewide terrorism and intelligence center stated, according to Weiss, who read the report to The Washington Post.
According to the report, hackers apparently broke into a software company’s database and retrieved user names and passwords of various control systems that run water plant computer equipment. Using that data, they were able to hack into the plant in Illinois, Weiss said.

“It was tracked to Russia. It has been in the system for at least two to three months. It has caused damage. We don’t know how many other utilities are currently compromised.
Senior U.S. officials, including Alexander, have recently raised warnings about the risk of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. Questions persist about the readiness and capabilities of DHS to respond to a major attack, and the scope of authority of the U.S. military, which has the greatest cyber operational capabilities, to respond.
Our readers may recall that the Duqu worm, which was identified by cyber security firms last month, has been deployed throughout the network infrastructure of the U.S. grid and is scarily similar to that of Stuxnet. It is believed that Duqu is currently active in the United States, sniffing and looking for potential security holes, and may becapable of disrupting computers controlling power plants, oil refineries and other critical infrastructure networks.
While the attack in Illinois is isolated to a single utility and plant, and apparently just one water pump, it may be a precursor of things to come. The fact that hackers gained access to an essential component of the grid can only mean that the rest of the nation’s command and control systems are equally as vulnerable.
One is no big deal and plant personnel can recover fairly quickly. But what happens if a foreign power or a rogue shadow terror group decides to launch a coordinated, multi-node, multi-regional attack that not only attacks pump systems, but perhaps the chemical treatment systems that keep our water supplies clean? It is conceivable that, since these cyber worms are capable of controlling hardware and software, city water supplies could essentially be poisoned before monitoring systems are able to determine that they have become dangerous for human consumption. And this is just one of many potential attacks that can be initiated on our grid. Everything from water supplies and electric power, to oil refining and digital commerce (i.e. bank ATMs, stock exchanges, etc.) could be a target.
Realistically speaking and considering that hackers managed to take-down what should be a highly secured water processing system, a coordinated attack could yield significant damage that includes the deaths of thousands of people.
This latest example of the cyber vulnerabilities in critical nationwide infrastructure systems should be enough to convince anyone that preparing a reserve supply of clean water, food and other supplies is a necessity in today’s world.
Author: Mac Slavo
Date: November 19th, 2011