One Chart Says It All

Sometimes one chart captures the fundamental reality of the economy: for example, this chart of money velocity and the civilian-population ratio. (thank you, Joseph Y. for posting it on my Facebook feed.)

When the blue line is up, more of the population has a job. (the blue line is the Employment-Population ratio.)

The red line is money velocity, the rate at which money changes hands. (Money buried in the coffee can in the back yard has a money velocity of zero.)

As Joseph noted, the correlation between the percentage of people working and money velocity was strong until 2010. In the post-2009 recession “recovery,” the percentage of the populace with jobs rose modestly, but money velocity absolutely cratered to unprecedented lows.

(The one other disconnect was triggered by the 1987 stock market crash, which caused money velocity to dip even as more people entered the workforce. This absence of correlation was relatively brief.)

The correlation between more people working and money velocity is commonsensical. More people working = more household income = more spending = higher money velocity.

But something changed in 2010. Did the quality and compensation of work change? Joseph observed: People started going back to work after the official recession ended in Q4 2009 but they were working for lower pay. With lower pay comes less disposable income, hence the cliff-like drop off in velocity.
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On the Dangers of Travelling, and on Elections

By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.

I have been travelling on business all week, hence the silence. The dangers of travel were brought home to me on Wednesday when, at the White Hart hotel in Lincoln, I inadvertently found myself sitting next to Nigel Farage at breakfast.

I find myself unable to get back home to Edinburgh today and cast my vote, which is frustrating. In Scotland, I do urge everyone who has not yet done so to get out and vote for Independence. I have been slightly downhearted by the tenor of some of the discussion as to whether it is safe to give the list vote to parties other than the SNP. Certainly for any supporter of Independence to give their constituency vote other than to the SNP is Quixotic. But in the entire central belt and in NE Scotland, I am prepared to state boldly – and twelve hours will prove the case – that a list vote for the SNP in those regions is almost certainly wasted, and could rather have helped elect a different pro-Independence MSP.

But I have no argument with the SNP, with Rise, with Solidarity or with anybody else supporting Independence. Differences on how to cast the list vote are largely over calculations of the best tactic, and for that reason some of the hard words and intolerant attitudes I have seen on social media – including on my favourite sites Wings over Scotland and Scot Goes Pop – are not appropriate. We should save our hard words for our enemies, not those fighting for the same cause who may have a different tactical preference. And we should look in future to change the horrible voting system to STV to give voters real choice.

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What We REALLY Know About the 9/11 Defendants

The government pretends that it’s giving the surviving 9/11 masterminds a fair trial, and that justice will prevail.

The truth may be different …

Kangaroo Court Show Trials

Buzzfeed reported yesterday:

The Defense Department has farmed out to a private company much of the criminal investigation and trials of the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to federal records and sources affiliated with the trials who spoke to BuzzFeed News.

What’s more, the government has hired the same firm, SRA International, to serve both the prosecution and defense teams, sparking concerns of a conflict of interest that could undermine the integrity of one of the most significant terrorism cases in modern history.

Sound a little odd?  It’s not the only fishy thing about the 9/11 trials …

In 2008, the former chief prosecutor for Guantanamo’s military commissions disclosed that the trials have been rigged to prevent any possibility of acquittal.

Specifically, the head of the Guantanamo tribunal — who is actually in charge of both prosecuting and defending the suspects — told the former chief prosecutor:

Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions.

In addition, three other Guantanamo prosecutors — Maj. Robert Preston, Capt. John Carr and Capt. Carrie Wolf — “asked to be relieved of duties after saying they were concerned that the process was rigged. One said he had been assured he didn’t need to worry about building a proper case; convictions were assured.”
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America’s Biggest of All Big Lies

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

On April 26th, Reuters headlined from Romania, “‘We’re Not Here to Provoke,’ Say U.S. Pilots on Putin’s Doorstep”, and gave as an example: “‘We’re not here to provoke anybody, we’re here to work with our allies,’ says Dan Barina, a 26-year-old pilot on his first trip to a region where tensions have risen markedly since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Romania’s neighbor Ukraine two years ago.”

How can it not be ‘provoking’, when Russia now faces a threat from Obama and America’s NATO alliance, that’s vastly worse than what America had faced from the Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev and the USSR’s Warsaw Pact alliance in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis? That was just one missile-base, 90 miles from the U.S. — not dozens of them, some right on Russia’s border. Are those American pilots idiots to believe their superiors’ absurd statements about what their mission is, or is insanity the explanation here — or, is there even some third explanation possible for this oblivious statement from the American pilot? Perhaps those soldiers and airmen are simply drowning in (or drunk with) U.S. propaganda? They really believe that Russia is moving too close to NATO, not that NATO has already moved too close to Russia? Really? The Reuters report said that NATO countries were doing this to protect themselves from “an increasingly aggressive Russia.” Wow. But that’s the line promoted by U.S. President Barack Obama. And he’s accepted as a decent person not only by the millions of voters in his own Democratic Party (though not in the Republican Party, which blames him for everything except the truth: that he is governing so far to the right that they have to concoct false ‘leftist’ reasons to criticize him); but, he’s also respected even by the publics in Europe, where they suffer the flood of refugees from the invasions he leads. After all: one must never underestimate the power of propaganda, to warp the public’s minds.

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Rail Traffic Depression: 292 Union Pacific Engines Are Sitting In The Arizona Desert Doing Nothing

By Michael Snyder, the Economic Collapse Blog.

Union Pacific Engines - Google EarthWe continue to get more evidence that the U.S. economy has entered a major downturn.  Just last week, I wrote about how U.S. GDP growth numbers have been declining for three quarters in a row, and previously I wrote about how corporate defaults have surged to their highest level since the last financial crisis.  Well, now we are getting some very depressing numbers from the rail industry.  As you will see below, U.S. rail traffic was down more than 11 percent from a year ago in April.  That is an absolutely catastrophic number, and the U.S. rail industry is feeling an enormous amount of pain right now.  This also tells us that “the real economy” is really slowing down, because less stuff is being shipped by rail all over the nation.

One of the economic commentators that I have really come to respect is Wolf Richter of WolfStreet.com.  He has a really sharp eye for what is really going on in the economy and in the financial world, and I find myself quoting him more and more as time goes by.  If you have not checked out his site yet, I very much encourage you to do so.

On Wednesday, he posted a very alarming article about what is happening to our rail industry.  The kinds of numbers that we have been seeing recently are the kinds of numbers that we would expect if an economic depression was starting.  The following is an excerpt from that article
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Voting With Our Feet

By Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges, formerly of the New York Times. Truth Dig (republished with permission of the author.)

  Protesters shout as they are forcibly removed from a Donald Trump campaign rally in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday. (Ross D. Franklin / AP)

Bernie Sanders’ political corpse in the presidential race is still warm, but some of his prominent liberal supporters already are urging us to flee to Hillary Clinton. Sanders, who knows the game is up, will soon become the Democrats’ pied piper. He will seek to entice his supporters into the Democratic Party rattrap. He has decried the disruption of Trump rallies—denigrating the only power we have left—saying “people should not disrupt anybody’s meetings.” His “political revolution,” like his promise of a movement, is a cynical form of advertising. Sanders will, like the Barack Obama of 2008, end as an impediment to the mass movements he claims to represent. And mass movements in our system of “inverted totalitarianism” are our final and only hope.

I understand the fear over Donald Trump. I too want to crush the growing fascist sentiments rising up from the rot and decay of American society. But voting for Clinton and supporting the Democratic Party will not halt our descent into despotism. It will only accelerate it. Trump is not creating phenomena. He is responding to them. It is up to us to halt the array of forces, including the Trump campaign, that are preparing a species of American fascism and orchestrating a global ecocide. The only way we have left to vote is with our feet.
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Three Centuries of U.S. Writing Against War

Every student of peace, sanity, or survival, every person interested in the possibility of the United States making its current wars its last seven wars, every believer in the value of wisdom and the written word should pick up a copy of Lawrence Rosendwald’s 768-page collection, War No More: Three Centuries of American Antiwar and Peace Writing.

Looking for ways to improve the Pentagon that $600 billion a year just can’t buy? Did you know that Benjamin Rush not only signed the Declaration of Independence but also proposed that these words be hung over the door of the U.S. Department of War:

“1. An office for butchering the human species.
“2. A Widow and Orphan making office.
“3. A broken bone making office.
“4. A Wooden leg making office.
“5. An office for creating public and private vices.
“6. An office for creating a public debt.
“7. An office for creating speculators, stock Jobbers, and Bankrupts.
“8. An office for creating famine.
“9. An office for creating pestilential diseases.
“10. An office for creating poverty, and the destruction of liberty, and national happiness.”

Did you know there was collective nonviolent resistance to war in the Book of Mormon? Or that Henry David Thoreau long ago offered a more accurate depiction of a U.S. marine than has yet appeared in any television ad or Hollywood/CIA movie?
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The Case Against Hillary Clinton

Eric Zuesse

The case against Hillary Clinton (click onto it at that link) seems to me to be so strong (and I’ve checked the soundness of all of its sources), so that I’m even asking myself whether I shouldn’t vote the Presidential line at all (or else vote there for a ‘protest’ candidate, which is effectively the same thing as not voting at all) on November 8th, or should instead even go so far as to vote for Donald Trump, in order to prevent her from becoming President.

Then, I saw recently a reader-comment at a news-site where the unpalatable Presidential options were being discussed, and one “patriot” said there that on November 8th, anything would be better than a vote for Trump, to which another person responded:

Not so; I’ve never voted Republican in my life, but if Hillary is the candidate, I’ll vote for Trump, because he has no record in public office (and what he says contradicts himself routinely so can’t be believed), whereas she has an extensive record in public office (and she lies almost as much as he does, and so her words also are null), and that record is disgusting: 

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/02/hillary-clintons-six-foreign-policy-catastrophes.html

Since I wrote that, I was forced to ask myself whether I would vote for Trump if the only real alternative turns out to be Hillary; and, I concluded that, yes, I would, and that the reason is precisely because I don’t trust either candidate, but that only in the case of Hillary am I certain that she as President would be catastrophic. At least with Trump, I have no way of knowing what his real policies would be.

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Why Trump Winning the Republican Nomination is Good for American Democracy

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.44.10 AM

While it might sound strange, a coronation of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary will mark the end of the party as we know it. There’s been a lot written about the “Sanders surge,” with much of it revolving around Hillary Clinton’s extreme personal weakness as a candidate. While this is indisputable, it’s also a convenient way for the status quo to exempt itself from fault and discount genuine grassroots anger. I’m of the view that Sanders’ support is more about people liking him than them disliking Hillary, particularly when it comes to registered Democrats. He’s not merely seen as the “least bad choice.” People really do like him.

The Sanders appeal is twofold. He is seen as unusually honest and consistent for someone who’s held elected office for much of his life, plus he advocates a refreshingly anti-establishment view on core issues that matter to an increasing number of Americans. These include militarism, Wall Street bailouts, a two-tiered justice system, the prohibitive cost of college education, healthcare insecurity and a “rigged economy.” While Hillary is being forced to pay lip service to these issues, everybody knows she doesn’t mean a word of it. She means it less than Obama meant it in 2008, and Obama really didn’t mean it.

– From the post: It’s Not Just the GOP – The Democratic Party is Also Imploding
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Eight “New Normal” Charts That Are Insanely Abnormal–and Dangerous

Anyone questioning the sustainability and rightness of The New Normal is immediately attacked by the mainstream-media defenders of the crumbling status quo. Not only is everything that broke in 2008 fixed, everything’s going great globally, and anyone who dares question this narrative in a tin-foil hat conspiracy nut or simply an annoyingly doom-and-gloomer who recalcitrantly refuses to accept the positive glories of official statistics: low unemployment, rising valuations of stock market Unicorns, etc.

But the New Normal is anything but normal; all the readings of artificial life-support and manipulation are off the charts. If the New Normal were indeed a return to normalcy, we’d see a rapid and sustained decline in official life-support of the economy.

Instead, we see official life-support efforts rising to new and dangerous levels.The only reason stocks are at nose-bleed valuations globally is massive, sustained intervention on multiple levels.

We also see increasing dependence on debt to sustain increasingly weak growth. The New Normal is all about diminishing returns on additional debt.

The New Normal is also about the loss of institutional credibility. The Federal Reserve denies it makes policy decisions based on the stock market, but as soon as stocks start tumbling, the Fed’s leadership hits the airwaves with a media blitzkrieg, frantically assuring the world that the Fed will do “whatever it takes” to keep stocks at absurdly overvalued levels forever.
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