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Old 2018-01-02, 01:04   #1
ewmayer
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Default Mystery Economic Theater 2018-2019

By way of reference, here are links to previous installments of this thread series: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. Wow, I see we have entered our second decade!

--------------------------------

The Carpetbaggers of Tech | Julianne Tveten, The Baffler

A happy new year of financial shenanigans and chicanery to all! An inexhaustible supply of source material for bloggers and forum threads like this one.
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Old 2018-01-08, 06:51   #2
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The current stock market shows signs of being overextended similar to 1929 and to the dotcom bubble of 1999. The problem with this situation is that any overt event can shock the market and trigger massive losses. This would cascade with market losses turning into company bankruptcies followed by massive layoffs and individual bankruptcies. All it would take is war to break out in any of the major oil producing countries or any hostilities between major nations.

The U.S. economy is not as resilient as 50 years ago given that many manufacturing jobs have transitioned overseas. U.S. low end workers are finding macjobs i.e. service industry jobs as a large portion of work available. Employers using minimum wage labor, especially those involved in any aspect of farming, are having difficulty as several states have raised minimum wage, some as high as $15 per hour. This puts a lot of pressure on businesses in high minimum wage states who compete directly with low minimum wage states. Costs are rising on one hand, but the price that can be charged for the product has not increased. This has resulted in several plant nurseries going out of business. I can give examples in CA and WA if anyone is interested.

On a personal level, I have invested heavily in retirement accounts over the last 7 years. This fits with my planned retirement in 2026. It would hurt a great deal if the market takes a dive before I retire.
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Old 2018-01-18, 07:14   #3
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All the signs are there that the market is seriously over-extended. I invested heavily over the last 3 years nearly doubling my starting amount. My investments are now more conservative but still oriented toward growth. This is the same way the market felt in 1999 just before the dotcom bubble went off like a whoopee cushion.

Bitcoin and similar block chain currencies have been in a dither the last couple of days. Price peaked a few weeks ago nearly double today's range. I don't claim expertise in understanding the fundamentals of block chain, but I do understand when a speculative bubble is making escaping gas noises.
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Old 2018-01-19, 01:01   #4
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Cross-posted in a thread over in MiscMaths:

Researchers: One Person Drove Bitcoin Price from $150 to $1,000 - ExtremeTech

It's important to separate the concepts of blockchain and cryptocurrency - one can use the former fo all sorts of purposes without having a speculative mania in form of the latter attached. I believe that this - in addition to an entry regarding the associated current techno-Tulipmania in the historical record - in fact will the the long-term legacy of Bitcoin. Old-fashioned contracts and ledgers will not go away, mind you, but digital blockchain tech will definitely find an important niche. But for everyday transactions down to the smallest ones, self-validating no-internet-required fiat and existing dedicated transaction networks would seem to provide all that is needed.*

-------------------

*Unless one is a criminal or - much more dangerously - a government looking to exert ultimate micro-control over all aspects of its citizens' lives, that is. Imagine the staggering power that would come with forcing everyone to go digital: being able to implement negative interest rates via direct debiting of everyone's savings, snooping (and taxing, wherever possible) on every monetary transaction made, and being able to sanction individuals by withdrawing their access to legally purchase *anything*. No wonder the government stooges and central-back shills are continually pushing the 'dream' of the cashless economy™, using the specter of Deplorable arch-criminals as pretext - these are the kinds of power-hungry psychopaths who have wet dreams over the thought of possessing that kind of power.

Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 2018-01-19 at 01:02
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Old 2018-01-19, 10:46   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ewmayer View Post
Cross-posted in a thread over in MiscMaths:

Researchers: One Person Drove Bitcoin Price from $150 to $1,000 - ExtremeTech
"These bots appeared to make valid trades, but they did not actually own the Bitcoin being traded" - this is totally bullshit, and impossible to do with any cc, as opposite to shares, futures, fiat money, and other financial instruments.
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Old 2018-01-19, 14:15   #6
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You might find the January 18 2018 Non Sequitur amusing...
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Old 2018-01-19, 22:53   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurV View Post
"These bots appeared to make valid trades, but they did not actually own the Bitcoin being traded" - this is totally bullshit, and impossible to do with any cc, as opposite to shares, futures, fiat money, and other financial instruments.
On an unregulated exchange run (as it proved) by a bunch of scammers, who is to say what is possible? It may be impossible for you and me, but for those who own and operate the trading platform? Even if the underlying distributed ledger tech prevents such bogus transactions from entering the ledger, does that preclude someone operating an exchange from posting simulated transactions and fake price movements in order to lure retail suckers into buying actual CCs at the resulting inflated prices?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus View Post
You might find the January 18 2018 Non Sequitur amusing...
Ha, very nice. :)

Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 2018-01-19 at 22:55
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Old 2018-01-20, 02:03   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus View Post
You might find the January 18 2018 Non Sequitur amusing...
I got really hooked for a while browsing Non Sequitur. Thanks!
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Old 2018-02-03, 00:34   #9
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Whole Foods Becomes Amazon Hell Foods as Employees, Managers Quit, Cry on the Job....and These People Want to Run Your Healthcare? | naked capitalism

A couple years back my sister got quite deep into the lengthy interview process for a marketing position at AMZN - when she didn't get invited for "the final interview" I told her I was sorry about her wasted time & stress, but given what I'd heard about the working conditions at the company, she should be glad. The above piece confirms and exceeds even my deepest pessimism:
Quote:
Mind you, Amazon’s institutionalized sadism isn’t limited to its sweatshops. Amazon is also cruel to its office workers. The New York Times story that Gizmodo selected, based on over 100 employee interviews, included:

Bo Olson…lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

While that paragraph was the most widely quoted from that story, some reporters reacted strongly to other bits. For instance, from The Verge:

Perhaps worst of all is Amazon’s apparent approach when its employees need help. The Times has uncovered several cases where workers who were sick, grieving, or otherwise encumbered by the realities of life were pushed out of the company. A woman who had a miscarriage was told to travel on a business trip the day after both her twins were stillborn. Another woman recovering from breast cancer was given poor performance rankings and was warned that she was in danger of losing her job.
I'm guessing no one there mentioned any of this kind of stuff during the interview process. /sarc

Happy groundhog day to our US readers!
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Old 2018-02-05, 20:48   #10
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This is by way of followup to an NFL-related article I posted yesterday in the neighboring Worldwide Nightmare Theater thread -

Another great snip in a piece full of them (bolds mine):
Quote:
It’s not quite sufficient to say that the NFL is an owners’ league. It absolutely is, in the sense that every decision the league makes is made to advance the financial interests and flatter the various vanities of the owners. But, on a more mundane level, the league’s current deemphasizing of the game of football in favor of oafish executive theater—the protean expansion of the league’s metastatic rulebook, the endless rounds of stern but vague disciplinary action that issue from the commissioner’s office—is more than the owners dictating the way that their sport is overseen and organized. It is the owners making the league more explicitly about them: not just what they want, but what they do.

From a fan’s perspective, this is a bad choice for a bunch of reasons, starting with the fact that the people playing football in today’s NFL are stronger and faster than any people who have ever played the game before and that the owners are interchangeable soft pink guys whiffing on high-fives in their luxury boxes. Those are the bosses, though, and so the league’s appeal to fans is increasingly less about strength than power—less about the physical geniuses tossing or catching forty-yard lasers than the proper management and, where necessary, punishment of those players. The fantasy the league sells is less about the vicarious experience of a superhuman specimen like Odell Beckham Jr. than the vicarious experience of controlling such a specimen—whether on a fantasy team or through taking a hard line in real-world salary negotiations.

...
The formal expression of that authoritarianism might have changed through the years, but its underlying substance is as unyielding as, well, the language of the Declaration of Independence. Where Dallas Cowboys President Tex Schramm told NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw, “You guys are cattle, and we’re the ranchers,” in 1987, today’s owners prefer the involuted Trumpian rhetoric of outrage and redress. “We signed a shitty [labor] deal last time,” Jerry Richardson, the owner of the Carolina Panthers, told his peers at the NFL’s annual owners meeting in 2010, exhorting them toward a 2011 lockout that lasted for 132 days. “And we’re going to stick together and take back our league and fucking do something about it.” Documents later revealed that, in the season before Richardson and his fellow owners succeeded in reducing the share of league revenues devoted to player salaries from 50 to 47 percent, the Panthers showed an operating profit of $78.7 million. They went 2-14 that year.

Some of the NFL’s current crisis of mediocrity can be attributed to the league’s owners standing on their debauched principles to the detriment of the teams they put on the field. The Houston Texans, for instance, began the 2017 season without star offensive tackle Duane Brown in large part because they refused to guarantee his salary for this season. But, strange as that decision is when considered on its own dubious merits, it’s neither new nor remotely unique to the NFL. While we can probably assume that owners would rather win games than lose them, they will only put themselves out so far to that end.

Why? Well, because they don’t have to. NFL owners are fundamentally unaccountable even to their team’s fans, and that means that they’re free to do whatever they want. And so they do: the Rams and Chargers ditched St. Louis and San Diego, respectively, for Los Angeles, where they now lose games in front of a smattering of apathetic fans in a city that never seemed especially enthused about bringing even one team to town. Here, too, we can readily document the warping effect of all this compounding unaccountability in anemic ticket sales. In-person game attendance represents a small and decreasing portion of how teams make money—and despite that trend, Rams owner Stan Kroenke saw his team’s valuation double immediately upon making the move; the franchise’s last winning season was in 2003, but they are now the sixth-most valuable team in the league.

This summer, though, NFL owners showed off their ability to do whatever they want by deciding, in a soft sort of blackball, not to do something they didn’t want to do. And that was sign Colin Kaepernick.

Anyone But Kaepernick

Kaepernick, of course, has been a symbol of athletic and celebrity protest against police killings of black Americans for more than a year. But in terms of the NFL’s oligarchic structure, he represents something broader—the notion that players possess not just their own voices but their own dissenting opinions in the debate over the administration of apartheid-style justice in America. To paraphrase Schramm’s simile, it was like awakening on your ranch to hear your cattle not only talking, but loudly plotting your overthrow.
IOW exactly the same power dynamic as in the neoliberalized US economy, where the C-suiters grab an ever-larger share of the fruits of the rank-and-files labors, and often explcitly sacrifice some level of profitability - the kind that accompies a well-run firm with fairly-compensated, happy employees - in order to keep the rabble in its place. This is via a decades-long camapaign of ruthless wage suppression and job-precarization aided and abetted by both of the establishment parties in DC. This abrogation by th elites of the post-WW2 social compact and war on labor started in earnest, surprisingly enough, under none other than lefty icon Jimmy Carter, of course got much worse under Reagan - the UK did similarly under Reagan-best-pal "there is no such thing as society" Maggie Thatcher - and has been continued by ever single US president since, the only difference between the GOP and Dem ones being one os style, in that liberal darlings Clinton and Obama paid lip service to the working class while ruthlessly waging policy war against same. The War on Labor takes many forms, some of the more obvious of which are the H1B and related "we simply can't find enough qualified people domestically" visa scammery and endless "this will be a job killer" anti-minimum-wage propaganda warfare, happily parroted by the wholly-corporate-owned MSM.
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Old 2018-02-08, 16:33   #11
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The market bubble is hissing out rapidly as skittish investors pull money out of the speculative investments made over the last year. Block chain has gained a whole new meaning as crypto currencies have been hit with declines as much as 80%. I'd say this is going just about the way it should given the similarities with the events of 1999/2000. Some really good stocks are back down to a level that I can consider purchasing.
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