Monday’s Income & Expenditure Fairytale

Pull up a coffee, boys and girls, old cynical George is gonna read you the latest fairytale hot off the press and full of data mumbo…

“Personal income increased $59.4 billion, or 0.4 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $48.8 billion, or 0.4 percent, in April, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) decreased $2.6 billion, or less than 0.1 percent. In March, personal income increased $4.0 billion, or less than 0.1 percent, DPI increased $0.5 billion, or less than 0.1 percent, and PCE increased $65.6 billion, or 0.5 percent, based on revised estimates.

Proprietors’ income increased $2.5 billion in April, in contrast to a decrease of $0.5 billion in March. Farm proprietors’ income increased $2.9 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $8.0 billion.

Nonfarm proprietors’ income decreased $0.4 billion, in contrast to an increase of $7.5 billion. Rental income of persons increased $3.9 billion in April, compared with an increase of $3.3 billion in March. Personal income receipts on assets (personal interest income plus personal dividend income) increased $26.6 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $30.9 billion.

Personal current transfer receipts increased $6.5 billion, compared with an increase of $19.7 billion. Contributions for government social insurance — a subtraction in calculating personal income — increased $2.2 billion in April, compared with an increase of $0.8 billion in March.

Personal outlays — PCE, personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments — decreased $2.7 billion in April, in contrast to an increase of $69.9 billion in March. PCE decreased $2.6 billion, in contrast to an increase of $65.6 billion.

And may we have a drum roll, please, for this part?

“Personal saving — DPI less personal outlays — was $744.0 billion in April, compared with $692.5 billion in March. The personal saving rate — personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income — was 5.6 percent in April, compared with 5.2 percent in March. For a comparison of personal saving in BEA’s national income and product accounts with personal saving in the Federal Reserve Board’s financial accounts of the United States and data on changes in net worth, go to www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/nipa-frb.asp.

OK, a reality check here.

Let’s say there are 320-million people in America…just for poos and grins.

And then let’s assume that $744 billion in savings is right and not a crack-head number pulled out of someone’s butt number.  How much should every man woman and child have saved last month?  (744/0.312=???)

$2,325.

Every man, woman, child, pensioner…..

Right then, and I’m the Pope.

Doesn’t anyone test such numbers to see if they conform to reality?  Are contributions to Social Security (made as gunpoint) being counted, or WTF?

The problem with such reports is they don’t touch the reality of the planet real people live on.  No one, in our circle of friends (it’s admittedly a small circle – people think I’m too opinionated and they might be right) has anywhere need the kind of personal savings alluded to.

The problem comes down to this:  There are two ways you can figure personal savings.  The “old fashioned” way:  Net income after taxes, less expenses, and if anything is left over (say $50-bucks a week) then that is personal savings.

But in Fairytale land, where government has switched to “Full Use of Credit” as a means of measurement, the new formula might (and we can’t be sure) go something like this:

Take the income (Gross) and then deduct expenses.  Now, add back in something for payments on credit cards, because that debt represents real disposable income, at some point.  As long as we’re at it, let’s also adjust for tax consequences. 

IN this way, if property taxes go up, then, then it increases the write downs on the federal tax side…and say, isn’t that a savings?

As you can see, when government looks are regular people who look at their finances as a cash-basis, money in, money out proposition, it’s a whole different kettle of fish than applying what amounts to accrual-based accounting on looking at your total indebtedness as an asset.

In other words, instead of just having plain income, you have income defined as the total debt that income can support….two vastly different views.

Oh, and one that falls apart when rates begin to rise significantly…that’s when we might get back to plain speaking.  EBITDA never was honest accounting.  From a public policy standpoint, any variant of it sure shifts “the narrative”. 

And narrative is another word for story.  So is fairytale.

The Dow is set to open up nearly 80 points.  Fairytales, or not, greed is the steed in the lead.

Domestic Spy Act Expires

On paper, the domestic spying provisions of the (mis-named) Patriot Act may have expired, but I assure you, government is very likely doing everything it did before.  It’s just being rerouted.

To refresh your memory:  The government was once upon a time barred from listening in on conversations between law abiding Americans without a warrant.  How was the government going to “work around” that problem?

Simple:  Leased lines (dirt cheap with fiber) simply piped the calls of interest to foreign telecom places where citizens of other countries are NOT barred from listening in.  This is what Menwith Hill (England) and Alice Springs (Oztralia) are all about.

The tactic summarized to:  If it is illegal here, ship it there.   Then the NSA types can p[ass a lie detector about “shutting it down” while at the same time, the feeds pipe to (wherever) and the same surveillance takes place.

It’s a lot like taking money out of the left pocket instead of the right pocket, but the True Believers in surveillance aren’t going to give up that much data (and the power it brings).

Anyone who believes there isn’t a workaround is either a simpleton, fool, or brain-dead American who still believes the fairytale.

Of course we won’t hear about it….ever…but if you know what you’re doing with TRACE ROUTE…and if you have any anti-government history, then you should be able to see things for yourself even after the Patriot Act is gone.

For now, though, headlines like “Free to Chat Without NSA Tracking” could sucker those who don’t know how adamant our true believers are compared with their true believers.

Yes, there are still some Americans who are that bright and crafty.  4 at last count.

MERS Outbreak

More than 700 people have been isolated in South Korea with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Not to ask an embarrassing question here, BUT is it possibly a bioweapon that is genetically selective that has gotten into the wild?

From our news analyst fellow in Winnipeg:

Dear Mr. Ure,

The German molecular biologist and journalist Kai Kupferschmidt has expressed surprise on social media at the so far thankfully zero mortality rate of the current MERS outbreak in South Korea.

Curiously, The WHO still does not recommend travel restrictions or screening.

Regards,

The Weekend Movie Plot

Yes, yes, sorry to hear about the death this weekend of Beau Biden.  A “memorial page” sounds a bit maudlin, but hey.  (Maybe this is the future of grief counseling.)

But it struck me as movie plot material when we read just about at the same moment about how John Kerry was injured in a cycling accident in France.  And then, instead of being treated in France (socialized medicine there?) he instead gets airlifted to a different country.

No, I am not saying there is/was any link whatsoever.  But when statistical bumps like this occur I tend to put on my fiction-writer’s hat.

Yeah, So?

Kathleen Willey calls the apparent high bidder for the White House a “Money-Hungry Hypocrite.”

Got news for you, darling, that label covers just about the whole district of corruption.  Money hungry hypocrites are the main denizens of that alley.

Let me share the complete, unabridged version of Chapter 17 of Ure’s Infallible Guide to Crooked Politics:

Sticks and stones may break their bones

But cash gets them elected….

I do keep the 22 Biggest Hillary Scandals close at hand, though.  Not that it will help… I mean America would buy Hitler or Genghis Kahn today with a big enough ad budget.  Dead, injured, and serial lying?  All part of the job description, I’m afraid.

Update Your Software

From Warhammer:

Who says software isn’t important?

From Defense Industry Daily

·” Analysis of the blackbox of the Airbus A400M which crashed on 9th May has revealed that engine software is the likely cause of the accident. “

Better update the firewall, while they’re at it.

Coping: With Encountering the Future / Photo Finish

In this morning’s orthographic misadventures, we find the hulk of an old man staring at the clock and  calendar, lost as to what’s going on with the world. Are we becoming digital do-do’s?

Such introspection is common just before the arrival of one of the kids.  This is the awkward age, when the kids take their payback.

“Son, pick up your room” of 20-years ago is now likely to morph into “Dad, pick up your room…focus on just a very few projects and do them well…and let the other stuff pass by…”  I can hear it all now.

To be sure, there is a generation gap.

Until yesterday, I didn’t know there even was a alt-J (?) – Fitzpleasure (Official Music Video) –on YouTube

To some, who are going post-trance, post rap, there really is some interesting cross-into music coming along and this isn’t bad…just different.

Seems like everything about today’s youth is distorted or carried to some extreme, or other.  And, they seem to suffer the effects of  time compression, as well.  A hobby like free-falling (skydiving) may eat up some clock hours, but the actual “rush” is seldom longer than 3-5 minutes.

That compares with the old adventures (like going fishing in Alaska) which could be three weeks of pretty much non-stop new.

Part of the problem is no one has any time, anymore.  The deadlines are tighter, the work more intense, the problems of flow and and coordination are up many-fold, too, from our early days on a much emptier world.

I was born  in 1949.  At that time, world population was a measly 2.5 billion.  Today, we are stuffed with 7 billion people.  Put another way, compared to 1949, nearly three times as many people are vying over…everything.

There’s no urgency to couple or marry, perhaps partly as a response to this.  The problem is not that everyone looks at child- bearing as a somber and reasoned decision.  There are several religions in the world that are (to put it frankly) screwing their way toward world dominance.

And that’s quite worrisome.

Whatever…this afternoon I pick up my son in Dallas for a week and we will have (since the rain has stopped) a couple of days of dad time and I expect to see my truck go down the road to Skydive Space Land, or I will get suckered into running Ure Air Cargo’s little single engine down to the drop zone.

Dad, we have two GoPros…we should be able to do some real quality movies!

Another symptom of the future.  Technology – the problem we got into over on the Peoplenomics™ side of things this weekend.

In 1949 the idea of a personal movie was vastly different.  If people shot movies, it was 8 MM and usually shot-edited onto the camera.  Maybe a touch-up splice, or three.  No sound track.

By 1965, as our age group was wandering through high school, the media of the day was Super 8 Movie film – introduced by Kodak.

Which gets me to this morning’s first neuron firing:

Kodak’s remnants are still around today…but except for specialized applications, the world has passed them by.  Oh, sure, they are in the digital camera space, but with a different attitude toward the future, the company could have been a mega-giant, even today.

It’s not.

Rather than reaching into the future and pulling it forward – serving up massive innovations to a tech-hungry public, the company managed to “steal defeat from the jaws of victory.”

I expect that if Kodak had invented better/cheaper film, Fuji would not have gotten so big.  Or, if they had rolled on with the idealization of the camera, outfits like Pentax and Canon would have been hard-pressed.

There’s a genius to dominating market share – and Kodak didn’t understand it.  For a long while, they rested on their laurels, optimized film profits, and then when film went away (mostly), they were left like new kids adrift in the world of technology.

The “Brownie” camera is in everyone’s phone, 60% of phones can probably shoot a better resolution movie that Super-8 and those cumbersome hand-blocked video film cutters…Well, not much of a market for them anymore.

A couple of weeks back, I pulled Elaine’s camera out of the storage room and this whole revolution in photography ran  me over like a train.

She had a Minolta XG-7 with an assortment of lenses, auto-winder, and so on.  Since we have been trying to eliminate unused (old) tech, I quickly hit eBay to look up the price.

About $35 bucks, is what it looks like.  Not a very good return on investment, I’d say.  Especially because neither one of us is big movie or picture collectors.  Those great images in life are carried around between  the ears.

When we get around to making a couple of video’s this week, it will be Corel video editing software, a custom voice-track from the studio, and whatever else comes to mind. 

Television is another area where compression of technology has taken its toll:  Things like Time Code are quickly going the route of quantization error in sound recording.  In other words, the problems are going away.

Automatic reformatting and sample conversion software ends the time code issue and in audio, trhe quantization nightmares of 8-bit audio disappear above 32-bit A-to-Ds.  Oh, sure the problems may still technically exist, but their impact on humans is gone. The human neurons are only so refined, and after that, all you can do is keep whacking away are resolution which is why 4K is coming and 16K will be here one of these days.

All of which is changing the nature of the arts.  I don’t mean just Fitzpleasure, or any other piece of music to drift out of a studio.

I mean film, as well.  When we were watching Alfred Hitchcock black and white movies, the director was an incredibly important part of the mix. Adding depth of shadows, lighting, and more.

But the high-res mini-cams that do full HD (and better) are squishing the director’s role.  The problem is that as resolution of the video gets better, the ability to push around lighting becomes limited.  The cameras and resolution is so good that you can easily tell when a scene ain’t natural.

It’s like painting.  Picasso would be my candidate as an example of “pixelated art.”  But,  it Picasso had to create with his brush in 4K resolution, would it be something other than a macabre distortion plug-in which you can get for video now?

Don’t mean to ramble on.

The one other thing about one of the kids visiting is we get to judge their willingness to pay Social Security payments for the parents.  That one’s critical.

All this bears keenly on investment.

Getting rich (or at least comfortably well-off) is nothing more or less than the art of seeing the future clearly before it shows up.

You sell the old thing and buy the new thing…simple as that.  And all it takes is an occasional operating system, phone concept, or digital camera to make it rain money.

That and a vigilant eye toward future challengers. And always asking the question “Who can unseat the market position held by this company that I own?”

I’m watching the battle between Costco and Wal-Mart with some interest… I think it would be damn interesting for them to think about merging…because going into the future, that would make sense…but time will tell.

Meanwhile,  this is “listen to the kid” week and it should prove interesting.

Welcome to Summer

With school starting to let out for the wee ones,. it means the price of gas is likely to go up.

Still, a year ago gas was going for $3.669 while this morning it’s at $2.746.

Yes, gas goes up in summer travel months, but the continued low price of gas (and diesel) is one more reason I think we may have another leg up in the markets. 

The sell in May and Go away was tardy arriving, but what if all that Fed backdoor QE money will have strange unintended consequences?

We’ll see, but so far a measured view on economics has served us a lot better than the latest doom porn for about the thousandth time about how a “Dwarf planet will smack earth” and “Weather modification warfare causes California drought…”

The balance is to keep the mind open to new information, but not so open that your brain falls out.

Write when you break-0even…

George  george@ure.net