Still Alive, GDP Fairytale Claims 5% in Q3

(26’30”N x 89’ 60”W or about 420 miles south of Houston)

The Consumer Price Index numbers Thursday didn’t wiggle the markets much.  Neither did the FCC decision, which we’ll get to in a sec.  Today, however, the market may turn tail for a while, depending on if anyone figures the punchbowl has been spiked.

There’s the selection of headlines that are deflationary in tone:

    Our first major breaking news today is the GDP report, a nearly incomprehensible mish-mash of self-referential mumbo-jumbo, sounds pretty good:

    Real gross domestic product -- the value of the production of goods and services in the United
    States, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of
    2014, according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the third
    quarter, real GDP increased 5.0 percent.
          The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for
    the "advance" estimate issued last month.  In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 2.6
    percent.  With the second estimate for the fourth quarter, private inventory investment increased less
    than previously estimated, while nonresidential fixed investment increased more (see "Revisions" on
    page 3).
          The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal
    consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, exports, state and local government
    spending, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a
    negative contribution from federal government spending.  Imports, which are a subtraction in the
    calculation of GDP, increased.
          The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter primarily reflected an upturn in
    imports, a downturn in federal government spending, and decelerations in nonresidential fixed
    investment and in exports that were partly offset by an acceleration in PCE, an upturn in private
    inventory investment, and an acceleration in state and local government spending.

    The Baltic Dry Index was up 7 points to 540 this morning, still 2009 levels, impacted with shipping company bankruptcies in the last couple of weeks.

    When I looked, stock futures were about flat.

    Eventually, the shopkeeper economy will run out of customers and, when it does, things should turn ugly quick.  Already this week, we’ve seen JP Morgan/Chase begin moving toward charging for some deposits (which is what negative interest rates are) and that’s how “money in the mattress” became a popular phrase in the last Depression.

    Today, in the “new and improved” US economy, you’re only good to maybe $2-thousand dollars of bed money.  After that, it will be assumed that you are a drug dealer and the money is IGG – ill-gotten gains, and that will be that.

    I assume you have have your receipts for the gold and silver you bought?  Because as we continue the deflationary slide, one of the future problems to be considering now is how you’re going to explain having more gold than Scrooge McDuck without a paper trail.

    Not to ruin your Friday morning, but it is something to think about.

    Echoes of the Communications Act of 1934

    The ruling by the FCC yesterday really is a good thing, and regardless of how one thinks of the Obama administration on other issues, this one they  got right.

    The decision is similar in timing to the major sea-state change in 1934, during the last Depression when government moved to regulate then fledgling radio.

    Essentially, the decision says cell phone carriers must as in the public interest and can’t set up special “high speed lanes” for higher paying users and thus, the idea that all bits are created equal is still alive.

    At least mostly. 

    There’s already a special set of lanes for the military.  What the ISPs were after was another way to screw consumers out of additional revenue…and thanks to a well-reasoned decision, that’s off the table now.

    Verizon went so far as to put out a press release in Morse Code to underscore how they thought it was an anti-progress move. 

    Of course, phone companies would like to pick your pocket for additional fees, for things like connecting to your private music server or your home surveillance system.  So look for the greedsters to head to court next in attempts to fatten their take.

    The greedsters were looking to charge for different bit rates, so you could be driven to an Amazon Video over Netflix, depending on connection fee (bribes) would have been paid to the carriers for preferential bit rates.

    So yes, Obama’s regime did get something right and it’s in the public’s interest.  No matter how the corporate hucksters try to paint it the other way.

    Still, as a reader in Idaho puts it:

    Just finished your posting, the part about the 1934 communications act and gov’t power struck home….remember what else happened in 1934? Like the NFA, which prohibited Americans from possession of many types of smoke poles and mufflers? I now understand the reasoning behind it: The control of the power base the gov’t has and wants to keep in place……

    On the Other Hand:  Lynch

    The Senate has approved Loretta Lynch for Attorney General. Good attorney, perhaps, but I’ve gotta side with the GOP worries about her support of unilateral executive action on illegal immigration.  Can’t these people read law? Blame Bush six years on? GMAFB

    The Rest of Washington Goes to Pot, Too

    Details here, vape it up.

    Global Warming

    having missed the snow/sleet at the ranch this week, I was pleased to see the video of Senator Inhofe throwing a snowball while poking fun at the global climate change (new tax) supporters.

    Make no mistake, CO2 levels are going up.  Yes, it causes greenhouse effect.

    But where’s the work on ocean dead zones where fertilizer runoff has killed off the ocean’s natural ability to create oxygenation?  When the global climate change people start sounding the alarm on that and impact of sun cycles (which is why other planets were warming) then maybe I will listen more closely.

    For now, if it looks like a global tax scam, smells like a global tax scam, then it’s likely a what?

    Speaking of which, did you know wheat was grown in England 8,000 years ago?  And now that you know it, does it really matter?

    Health: Eye Openers

    This Google headline is one more reason to drink coffee: Coffee intake linked to reduced risk of MS

    Another report (google it) says too much sleep can increase your risk of a stroke.

    And, as long as we’re passing out medical notes, here’s a report on an Ebola virus pill.

    Take it with coffee when it comes out.

    Which won’t be in time for a possible Ebola case in Virginia.

    Coping: With the Details of Cruising

    image(From the Middle of Caribbean) 
    As we steam (more correctly: diesel-electric) our way back to Houston where we will arrive Saturday morning, there are a number of details that people have written inquiries about that deserve some discussion.

    First and foremost is security.

    imageI don’t know if you’re old enough to remember the Achille Lauro incident, but that was where a bunch of Palestinian terrorists seized a cruise ship in the Med and started killing people including (going by memory here) wheeling a man confined to a wheelchair into the water.

    It’s understandable that people would be concerned about security, given how the security-state mindset has been drilled into our consciousness.

    So a couple of notes for would-be terrorists:  First is that along the Banana Coast of Honduras, the Honduran Coast Guard will challenge and run-off small vessels getting too close to the cruise ships.

    Secondly, the US Coast Guard “rides shotgun” way out to sea and deep water.  Plus, there are cameras everywhere on the ship, the bridge is protected from unauthorized entry and security forces shipboard that you wouldn’t want angry.

    imageThe next item of possible interest) is the cleanliness of restroom facilities ashore.

    While our sample was limited to one, Elaine was suitably impressed with the gleaming tile of the Port restroom at Trujillo that she snapped a picture of it and offered that all women’s facilities should be so well-maintained.

    It was the same on the men’s side, too.  But one of the obvious differences between the sexes is that in marginal restrooms, women develop what’s best described as the semi-acrobatic “high hover” while men are blessed with “point and shoot” capacity.

    Another reader was asking about different genders and how the LBGT community fits in shipboard.  Very comfortably, thanks for asking.  There’s a daily meet-up time for Friends of Dorothy on the calendar most days.

    On the other side of things, a reader was relative disgusted in my referring to Elaine’s similarity to Little Annie Fanny and was wondering if this was a men’s magazine, or what?

    No offense intended.  As a long-term reader, you’ll know I’ve referred to Elaine in many other ways including her amazing ability to speak sentences that would more befit Yogi Berra,  the baseball legend who did as much for Zen logic as he did for baseball with such great lines as “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

    Elaine also maintains a Little Orphan Annie kind of innocence of the “Gee willikkers” sort that most people have lost to Cynics Disease somewhere shortly after their first job experience.  How she’s been able to maintain the “water off the back of a duck” attitude toward so many aspects of life, I’ll leave it to the Stephen Hawking types to figure out.

    That said, there are those who claim the body is the temple in which consciousness lives.  Elaine’s temple is meticulously maintained.  Mine is built on something more like a land fill.

    On the other hand,, after a five-minute conversation with Elaine people have been known to wander off, scratching their heads trying to figure out what she was getting at.  My position on things is usually  obvious in 15-seconds or less, like it or don’t.  That’s the viva la difference! that keeps Life interesting.

    That said, in order not to offend, I will try to remember to refer to Elaine more often as Yogi not Annie (either one)..

    imageThe last Reader inquiry had to do with the total cost of the cruise.

    Let’s be frank:  Although we dream of taking another cruise soon, it’s just not in the budget.  This one was more of a “once in a lifetime” event.  Cruising in this kind of comfort is not something we can afford to do every day, since the costs are real.

    The basic cost was about $2,300 for the mini-suite with balcony and that included the Unlimited Freestyle Dining option.

    But, there’s also a $12/day/per person “tips and service” fee tacked onto the credit card.  So there is another $200.

    Then there are drinks.  I carefully ran out the numbers on this one since the cost per person would have been $62 each, so $120 per day or around $900 more.  We didn’t do that, but the price of drinks onboard is steep, so we likely did about $600 worth.

    Then there is internet connection time. 

    I will use every  bit of 500-minutes of connection time, so that comes out to another $200, and I’m sure there will be taxes added to that.

    Total cost?  By the time I toss in parking at $75 for the week, we’re looking at $3,375.

    That runs out to $562 per day so it would have been far cheaper to Yogi and me to travel to some exotic place (Galveston), check into a hotel with a half gallon of hooch and call room service for a week.  We’d have come out probably a thousand bucks ahead.

    On the other hand, we would not have traveled 2,000 miles on a boat, seen clean bathrooms in Honduras, or has had the “remote viewing/dream” content I told you about in advance come to pass.  Which gets us to….

    A Personal Remote Viewing Note

    You may recall, several weeks back, I told you in one of the Coping sections that I’d had a dream about meeting a couple (toward the latter part of the cruise) and how we’d end up talking business?

    I’d look up the exactly wording, except this is million dollar a minute internet access out here in the middle of the Caribbean.

    Anyway, that happened just about exactly as in the dream with some minor variances.  The couple who we got to talking with in the elevator ended up chatting with us for a good 1/2-hour to 45-minutes.

    And the discussion about business?  Ah…here’s where it got interesting:  Turned out that the male of the couple (trying to keep this generic, right?) was an ex EDS fellow. And I learned an incredible amount of background to fill in the answer to “What ever happened to Ross Perot?”

    Hell of a tale…and sometime, one of these days, it would make an interesting discussion. I didn’t realize back in the “old days” at GM that executives had their own heated garage which Perot called BS on…making him extremely unpopular with the anti-change, old-=guard GM management types.

    But that’s what that little peek into the future was all about.

    California Warning

    Speaking of Woo-Woo and such, remember my odd dream about a pending 9+ earthquake in California or West Coast?

    Flip over to the site because the dream and language-shifts have just flipped over to a “red alert” for California.

    You may remember that the last time something like this came around, it was a red alert for “terror” in (o0ddly at the time) both Houston and Dallas.

    That was followed 3 1/2 weeks later, or thereabouts by the Ebola scare on the cruise ship.

    So when the DreamCenter goes active using the software to slice and dice word frequency and concept groupings out of dream content, I’d suggest to give it a little more weight than you would to predictions of prophecy sites and so on.

    This is not to say that something will happen, any more than my “peeks ahead” to two aspects of our cruise (the shopping balcony which I think was in Monday’s report) and then the ‘business discussion with a strange/new couple Thursday.

    Time to run through some headlines and then head for breakfast. 

    One last cruising tip:  If you have the “unlimited dining” plan, make your reservations for the whole cruise before the second day out.  I didn’t because Yogi hates nothing more than clocks.

    By the time I convinced her that we should make Friday night dinner reservations Thursday morning, all the reasonable times were booked.  So we’ll nap this afternoon and have a late dinner at 9:15 tonight.

    About 10 AM Central time, I’ll pass the 50,000 word mark in the novel I’m writing which (with any luck) will be a bit more than half way done.

    Peoplenomics tomorrow will go through the FCC decision, but it comes as no surprise, since the decision is analogous to the Communications Act of 1934.  It’s something governments just do when a new technology comes along that could disrupt their maintenance of power and control…they regulate.

    I predicted this would happen in Broken Web: The Coming Collapse of the Internet a couple of years ago.  It seemed like an outrageous prediction at the time, but welcome to Ure’s world.  We like to get the big stuff right, before it happens and remind folks when our predictions seriously run ahead of the headlines.

    Write when you break-even.