Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Top Ten Wealthiest Members of Congress - even though 2009 saw one of the worst economic downturns in America -

Top Ten Wealthiest Members of Congress - even though 2009 saw one of the worst economic downturns in America - 

The richest members of Congress actually got even wealthier last year, even though 2009 saw one of the worst economic downturns in America since the Great Depression, according the The Hill, which released its annual ranking of lawmakers' estimated wealth.
Members of Congress are required to file financial disclosure forms each year, and often report finances in broad ranges. The Hill took the bottom number of each range reported, and incorporated the sums of their liabilities and assets to come up with each number.
The 50 wealthiest lawmakers were worth an estimated $1.4 billion in 2009 - about $85.1 million more than in 2008. The growth is due, in part, to the fact that the stock market actually rebounded last year, helping lawmakers who had large investments.
Three Republicans and seven Democrats made up the top 10 slots, which are nearly the same as the previous year. Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., topped the list for the second year in a row with a whopping estimated worth of $188.6 million. Congressman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, however, joined the list for the first time, replacing representative Harry Teague, D-N.M.
Here are the top ten, along with their estimated worth.
1. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.): $188.6 million
2. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.): $160.1 million
3. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.): $152.3 million
4. Sen. Jay Rockefeller ( D-W.Va.): $83.7 million
5. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas): $73.8 million
6. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.); $70.2 million
7. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.): $56.5 million
8. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.): $53.5 million
9. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.): $49.7 million
10. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.): $46.1 million

Read more: http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/08/31/top-ten-wealthiest-members-congress#ixzz0yEErPqtm

Picture of the day - NASA - Three Storms - Hurricane Danielle, Hurricane Earl, and a developing tropical depression -

Picture of the day - NASA - Three Storms - Hurricane Danielle, Hurricane Earl,  and a developing tropical depression -

Hurricane Danielle, Hurricane Earl and a developing tropical depression

Read more - http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1749.html

Ron Paul questions whether there's gold at Fort Knox, NY Fed - wants to force an audit of U.S. holdings of gold -

Ron Paul questions whether there's gold at Fort Knox, NY Fed - wants to force an audit of U.S. holdings of gold - 

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said he plans to introduce legislation next year to force an audit of U.S. holdings of gold.
Paul, a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve and U.S. monetary policy, said he believes it's "a possibility" that there might not actually be any gold in the vaults of Fort Knox or the New York Federal Reserve bank.

libertarian lawmaker told Kitco News, a website tracking news about precious metals, that an audit was necessary to determine how much the U.S. maintains in gold reserves in case the government were to use gold to back the dollar.

“If there was no question about the gold being there, you think they would be anxious to prove gold is there,” he said.  
“Our Federal Reserve admits to nothing, and they should prove all the gold is there. There is a reason to be suspicious and even if you are not suspicious why wouldn’t you have an audit?

“I think it is a possibility," Paul said when asked if there was truth to rumors that there was actually no gold at Ft. Knox or the New York Fed.

Paul had been one of the Republicans to spearhead a broader audit of the Fed as part of the Wall Street reform bill passed through Congress this year. The provision, which was weakened somewhat in the final version, found Paul joining with a number of Democrats to require the Fed to open its books and outline its assets and liabilities.

The gold reserves, which Paul's new bill would audit, are generally seen as a guarantee on a nation's currency, but the U.S. moved the dollar away from being tied to the price of gold in 1972.

Paul stopped short of calling for the reinstitution of the gold standard and instead called for the government to allow the use of hard currency — gold and silver tender — alongside the use of the dollar.

"If people get tired of using the paper standard they can deal in gold or silver,” he said. 

Wall Street insiders this year have sold more than five times the number of corporate shares as they have purchases -

Wall Street insiders this year have sold more than five times the number of corporate shares as they have purchases - 

In a move that may reflect a growing unwillingness to tie their personal fortunes to those of their companies, Wall Street insiders this year have undertaken more than five times the number of stock sales of their corporate shares as they have purchases.
Officers and directors of Goldman SachsJ.P. MorganCitigroup, and Wells Fargo have sold about $100 million worth of stock so far this year, amid relatively small buying activity, according to public stock filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that have been analyzed by the research firm InsiderScore.
Year to date, Goldman [GS  136.93    0.27  (+0.2%)   ] insiders—a list including CEO Lloyd Blankfein, President Gary Cohn, and Chief Financial Officer David Viniar—have sold a combined $64 million worth of shares.
J.P. Morgan [JPM  36.36    0.51  (+1.42%)   ] insiders, including treasury and securities services head  Michael Cavanagh and vice chairman Steven Black, have sold about $16 million.
Citi [C  3.709    0.039  (+1.06%)   ] executives, including institutional client group head John Havens and Asia Pacific region head Stephen Bird, have sold about $5 million. At Wells Fargo[WFC  23.55    0.30  (+1.29%)   ], CEO John Stumpf recently sold nearly $6 million worth of shares, following wealth-management head David Carroll, who sold roughly $5 million in stock this past March.
Ben Silverman, research director at InsiderScore, said the recent swath of insider sales at banks signifies that “business is back to normal.” After wild swings in valuation at the major Wall Street firms, “we’ve got a degree ofstabilization at the banks,” he said, and insiders may be looking for attractive prices at which to sell.
Source: InsiderScore

Another factor: the increasing degree to which annual bonuses are made up of stock or options rather than cash. Last year, about 70 percent of companies used stock options for compensation, up from 63 percent for the prior year, according to the management consulting firm the Hay Group. Banks say that a larger proportion of pay is now doled out in options as well—making recipients want to cash out at an earlier date than in past years.
For many on Wall Street, the pre-crisis buy-and-hold mentality may be changing, say bank employees and compensation trackers. Holding company stock was once a chance for great wealth creation, as well as a source of pride for bank employees. But after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothersrendered its shares worthless and the fire sale of Bear Stearns dropped its stock to rock-bottom levels, more and more bank workers are reluctant to keep the company shares longer than they have to.

“There’s an understanding of the risk that these companies entail now,” said Silverman.
Bank spokespeople noted that much of the activity was governed by strict timing parameters placed on insiders as well as personal financial decisions, rather than a lack of confidence in the company’s stocks.
The largest stock sales at Goldman were undertaken by Blankfein, Cohn, and Viniar, who sold about $14 million, $11 million, and $10 million worth of stock respectively. Under an agreement struck two years ago, none of those executives may sell more than 10 percent of their common-stock holdings until October 2011.
But senior executives in the firm’s compliance area, including general counsel Esta Stecher, who sold about $9 million in stock, head of compliance Alan Cohen, who sold $1.5 million in stock, and chief accountant Sarah Smith, who sold a little more than $500,000 in stock, were also active sellers. Those officials are not bound by the October 2011 lockup.
The activity was nothing unusual, said a firm spokesman. Insiders at Goldman “are restricted by very narrow windows in which they can sell,” he said, and it “shouldn’t be surprising” if they take advantage of them. Much of the activity, he added, “was exercising ten-year options” that expired late last year.
Source: InsiderScore

At JP Morgan, by far the largest seller was Black, who sold about $7 million in company stock in March, not long after he was named vice chairman. (Black had previously been co-head of the investment bank.) Cavanagh sold $1.5 million of stock and chief administrative officer Frank Bisignano sold a little more than $1 million of stock the following month.
A JP Morgan spokeswoman said that the stock sales by Black, Cavanaugh, and others this past spring marked what officials saw as “a first good window” in which to sell, and noted that there had been no further sales after April 15.
At Citi this past April, Havens sold about $3 million worth of stock; about a month ago, Bird sold a little more than $1 million. CFO John Gerspach also sold about $300,000 worth of stock recently. All told, Citi insiders have offloaded about 1.2 million shares in the last fourth months—and bought none.
A company spokesman said that the rash of sales was motivated largely by pent-up selling activity that resulted from restrictions placed on the bank by the U.S. government as part of the TARP aid program, in which the bank was a major participant. Citi repaid its TARP loans late last year, but the government continues to hold a significant stake in the company.
At Wells Fargo, Stumpf unloaded his $6 million in stock in late July and mid August. Those sales followed a $5 million sale in March by Carroll.
A Wells spokeswoman noted that Stumpf made his sales "for presonal reasons related to a real estate transaction" and that he remains a "large Wells Fargo shareholder" whose "net worth remains primarily invested in the company."

Monday, 30 August 2010

“OAuthcalypse” - Twitter is killing support for basic user authentication in third-party apps on Tuesday morning -

“OAuthcalypse” - Twitter is killing support for basic user authentication in third-party apps on Tuesday morning - 

Twitter is killing support for basic user authentication in third-party apps on Tuesday morning, the company says. Instead, Twitter will now require all third-party app developers to use OAuth for user authentication.
This is a planned move Twitter first announced in December, and the company has posted a help page on its developer site with some resources meant to ease the transition to OAuth.
The Twitter API team has been dialing down the number of requests an app can make using the basic authorization method. That number will hit zero at 8AM Pacific time Tuesday.
Some bloggers have given the event the catchy name, “OAuthcalypse” — a bit of a mouthful, but so is “user authentication protocol” — the implication being that when basic authentication is switched off, it will break old software and leave users in the dark. But since Twitter has given developers ample warning of the change, the switch will only lock out a small number of apps.
Twitter’s move mirrors a broader trend on the social web, where basic authentication is being ditched for the more secure OAuth when services and applications connect user’s accounts.
In basic authentication, a website or app will say, “Hey, do you want to share whatever you’re doing here with your friends on Twitter? Give me your Twitter username and password and I’ll hook up your accounts.” By passing along your info, you’re giving that app or website unlimited access to everything in your Twitter account. Pretty dangerous, and not secure.
In OAuth authentication, the website or app will send you to Twitter where you sign yourself in, then Twitter will tell the website or app “Yeah, they are who they say they are.” The website or app only gains the ability to do certain things with your account — post, read, reply, search — while staying locked out from the more sensitive stuff.
The biggest advantage of OAuth is you don’t have to tell your Twitter password to anyone other than Twitter. Also, OAuth connections are token-based, so once a connection is established, you can change your Twitter password without having to re-enter it into the website or app.
The only disadvantage is that old apps that haven’t updated to use OAuth will stop working this week. All of the popular ones (Seesmic, Tweetdeck, etc.) have already updated.
Twitter has been recommending developers use OAuth as an authentication method for some time.
Almost all of the biggest social services, including Facebook and Yahoo, use OAuth to connect their social services together and to let users share photos, status updates and links in multiple places.
In fact, Facebook’s new Like buttons and its Social Graph API, launched in April, use the newer OAuth 2.0 to handle user authentication.
OAuth 2.0 is a simplified version of OAuth. Twitter plans to eventually move to OAuth 2.0 for its entire platform, and Tuesday’s switch is part of that broader transition.
Twitter was originally going to move to OAuth in June, but the transition was delayed because of the increased volume of tweets around the World Cup.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

"Monetary Shock and Awe": The Fed prepared to launch most Radical Intervention in History Bernanke's "Nuclear Option" -

"Monetary Shock and Awe": The Fed prepared to launch most Radical Intervention in History Bernanke's "Nuclear Option" -

The equities markets are in disarray while the bond markets continue to surge. The avalanche of bad news has started to take its toll on investor sentiment. Barry Ritholtz's "The Big Picture" reports that the bears have taken the high-ground and bullishness has dropped to its lowest level since March ‘09 when the market did a quick about-face and began a year-long rally. Could it happen again? No one knows, but the mood has definitely darkened along with the data. There's no talk of green shoots any more, and even the deficit hawks have gone into hibernation. It feels like the calm before the storm, which is why all eyes were on Jackson Hole this morning where Fed chairman Ben Bernanke delivered his verdict on the state of the economy on Friday.

Wall Street was hoping the Fed would "go big" and promise another hefty dose of quantitative easing to push down long-term interest rates and jolt consumers out of their lethargy. But Bernanke provided few details choosing instead this vague commitment:

“The Committee is prepared to provide additional monetary accommodation through unconventional measures if it proves necessary, especially if the outlook were to deteriorate significantly."

Check. There's no doubt that Helicopter Ben would be in mid-flight right now tossing bundles of $100 bills into the jet-stream like confetti if he had the option. But Bernanke is fighting a rearguard action from inside the FOMC where a fractious group of rebels want to wait and see if the recent downturn is just a blip on the radar or something more serious, another tumble into recessionary hell.

This week, the markets were blindsided by two days of dismal housing news, grim durable goods orders, a slowdown in manufacturing, and modest gains in employment. 4 years later, and housing is still mired in a depression. When does it end? Households and consumers are buried under a mountain of debt; personal bankruptcies, delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures continue to mount while politicians threaten to tighten the purse-strings putting more pressure on families who can barley put food on the table let alone pay the mortgage.

Just months ago, 57 out of 57 economists surveyed predicted that the economy would avoid a double dip recession. Now they're not so sure. Stock market gains have been wiped out and the S&P 500 has dropped 14 percent from its high in April. All of the main economic indicators are testing new lows. The so-called "soft patch" is looking like another hard landing. The fear is palpable. On Thursday, the Dow slipped another 74 points by the end of the session. It could have been worse. The markets have been holding on by their fingernails hoping that Bernanke will bail them out. But it's going to take more than the usual promise of low interest rates for an "extended period" to boost enthusiasm. Wall Street is looking for the "big fix", a trillion dollar resumption of the Fed's bond purchasing program (QE) to pump up flaccid asset prices, electro-shock demand, and raise consumer inflation expectations. The big banks and the brokerage houses want Bernanke to rout the Cassandras and the gloomsters and pump some adrenalin into sluggish indexes. The Fed chairman promised to help.....but not just yet, which is why the markets continue to seesaw.

Bernanke takes the threat of deflation seriously. His earlier speeches laid out a deflation-fighting strategy that is so radical it would shock the public and Wall Street alike. Here's an excerpt from a speech he gave in 2002 which illustrates the Fed boss's willingness to move heaven and earth to fend off the scourge of pernicious deflation:

Ben Bernanke: “My thesis here is that cooperation between the monetary and fiscal authorities in Japan could help solve the problems that each policymaker faces on its own. Consider for example a tax cut for households and businesses that is explicitly coupled with incremental BOJ purchases of government debt – so that the tax cut is in effect financed by money creation. Moreover, assume that the Bank of Japan has made a commitment, by announcing a price-level target, to reflate the economy, so that much or all of the increase in the money stock is viewed as permanent.

Under this plan, the BOJ’s balance sheet is protected by the bond conversion program, and the government’s concerns about its outstanding stock of debt are mitigated because increases in its debt are purchased by the BOJ rather than sold to the private sector. Moreover, consumers and businesses should be willing to spend rather than save the bulk of their tax cut: They have extra cash on hand, but – because the BOJ purchased government debt in the amount of the tax cut – no current or future debt service burden has been created to imply increased future taxes.

Essentially, monetary and fiscal policies together have increased the nominal wealth of the household sector, which will increase nominal spending and hence prices....from a fiscal perspective, the policy would almost certainly be stabilizing, in the sense of reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio....

Potential roles for monetary-fiscal cooperation are not limited to BOJ support of tax cuts. BOJ purchases of government debt could also support spending programs, to facilitate industrial restructuring, for example. The BOJ’s purchases would mitigate the effect of the new spending on the burden of debt and future interest payments perceived by households, which should reduce the offset from decreased consumption. More generally, by replacing interest-bearing debt with money, BOJ purchases of government debt lower current deficits and interest burdens and thus the public’s expectations of future tax obligations." (Some Thoughts on Monetary Policy in Japan, Governor Ben S. Bernanke, The Federal Reserve Board Tokyo, Japan, May 31, 2003)

Yikes! This is monetization writ large. Anyone who thought Bernanke lacked cohones should reread this passage. The Fed chair is prepared to launch the most radical intervention in history, monetary Shock and Awe. But will the bewhiskered professor be able to persuade congress to follow his lead, after all, the fiscal component is critical to the program's success. They're two spokes on the same wheel. Here's how (I imagine) it would work: Congress passes emergency legislation to suspend the payroll tax for two years stuffing hundreds of billions instantly into the pockets of struggling consumers. The Fed makes up the difference by purchasing an equal amount of long-term Treasuries keeping the yields low while the economy resets, employment rises, asset prices balloon, and markets soar. As the economy accelerates, the dollar steadily loses ground triggering a sharp increase in exports and sparking a viscous trade war with foreign trading partners. Then......it's anyone's guess? Either Bernanke's "nuclear option" succeeds in resuscitating the comatose economy or foreign holders of dollars and dollar-backed assets dump their gargantuan trove of US loot in a pile and set it ablaze. It's all a roll of the dice.

Read more - http://www.blacklistednews.com/news-10329-0-24-24--.html

Conrad Black: American apocalypse - after 18 months, the Keynesian spending bolt has been shot, ineffectually -

Conrad Black: American apocalypse - after 18 months, the Keynesian spending bolt has been shot, ineffectually - 

As one whose recollections of the American presidency go back to the august, relatively tranquil, unchallenged majesty of the terms of General Dwight D. Eisenhower — and of the respected ex-presidents living in that era, Herbert C. Hoover and Harry S. Truman — I can only look with dismay and amazement at what has happened to that great office. It is now clear that this marked the end of a golden age of the U.S. presidency.
The United States now is in a shockingly deteriorated condition. It is debt-ridden, hobbled by grievous failings in honesty of government, integrity of the justice system, competitiveness of the education system, anomalies in immigration policy, insupportable health-care costs, a presidency that has almost no credibility, a foreign policy that has foundered on the appeasement of Iran (as well as absurd nostrums such as the pursuit of a non-nuclear world and the war on global warming) and an economic policy that has been an epochal failure. The second half of the double dip yawns before us like the Grand Canyon, and it will be deeper and longer than the first, until leadership provides the radical solutions that are required.
The United States is blundering through its fourth consecutive failed presidency, and the economic apocalypse that is about to occur may be the only way, since decades of less soul-shaking opportunities have been squandered, of restoring America and its headship of state, to the practical and moral strength of former times.
America’s problems are not imperial overreach, or social decay, which have brought down the world’s previous leading nations and peoples; they are profound but corrigible public-policy errors. The nation was transformed into a white-collar fool’s paradise, where lawyers bill $1-trillion a year, manufacturing departs and too few people are actually doing anything useful. The result: no saving, little investment and instant gratification on borrowed money.
What is needed is a reorientation of America away from consumerist hedonism and back to a sensible balance between production, consumption, discretionary spending, saving and investment; an end to current-account and budgetary deficits and a comprehensive plan to reduce debt and not just devalue the currency in which it is denominated. Where foreign policy is concerned, the country must redefine its national interest in a way that does not have it on both sides of the war on terror (by its support of Islamist oil exporters and of Pakistan’s patronage of Taliban factions). And there must be profound reform of the competing public-policy shambles of justice, education, immigration, environment, health care and the incandescent scandal of corrupt campaign-funding and congressional vote-buying. This is the accumulated sludge of decades of misgovernment by a system that, in its cowardice, ducked illegal immigration, abortion, wealth disparity and most other crunch issues that legislators and government officials are paid to address. The pace of America’s renascence and with it, of stability in the world, now depend on whether the United States can again identify and elevate a president equal to these daunting tasks.
Barack Obama, certainly, is not that president. To give himself a greater mandate for a lurch to the left, he did nothing for months while warning the country of imminent catastrophe. He promised a reduction of unemployment to less than 8% with an $800-billion stimulus bill that was just a pig trough for his party’s barons in Congress. Unemployment rose to 9.6% and the administration was reduced to utter flimflam about prevention of further job losses. (More relevant is that when chronically underemployed people are added to the mix, unemployment actually is over 18%, near Depression levels.)
The playbook was there for Obama, but he ignored it. He should have taken FDR’s workfare programs to absorb unemployment by repairing infrastructure and advancing conservation, and Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts to revive the economy. Revenue could be raised by sales taxes on luxury goods and gasoline, and charges to purely elective financial transactions. The idea that savings or job creation can be stimulated by increasing income taxes is a fusion of heresy and idiocy, but this regime has managed it. If Obama wanted to tackle health care the right way, it had to be bipartisan — because to bring costs (the real issue) down to the level of comparable social-service countries such as Canada, only a bipartisan agreement can take $4,000 per patient back from the medical and legal professions, and drug, hospital and insurance industries. Neither major party can take on all of them and the other party at the same time, and any American political scientist who knows who’s buried in Grant’s tomb knows it.
Now, after 18 months, the Keynesian spending bolt has been shot, ineffectually: Each new job created by the stimulus bill cost the government about $195,000, and the projection is for a decade of trillion-dollar money-supply increases that would reduce the United States dollar to wallpaper by 2015 and toilet paper a few years after that. Income tax increases, as the administration advocates, will aggravate the recession, and so, at this point, would spending reductions, even if the Democratic leadership had the stomach for them.
The United States cannot be taken seriously in the world as long as it is an economic stretcher case. The best that can be hoped for is two years of frenetic plumbing, by a Republican Congress, to avoid an Old Testament flood, the emergence of a plausible alternative president, and the beginning, next inauguration day, of the long road to reestablishment of the greatest country in the history of the world, as the greatest country in the contemporary world, at least in the elemental statistics of economic and military power. It will happen, one of these election years, but it could be quite a sleigh ride just getting to the starting line.

Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/08/28/conrad-black-american-apocalypse/#ixzz0xw0zV8mh

Thursday, 26 August 2010

10 Practical Steps That You Can Take To Insulate Yourself (At Least Somewhat) From The Coming Economic Collapse -

10 Practical Steps That You Can Take To Insulate Yourself (At Least Somewhat) From The Coming Economic Collapse - 

Most Americans are still operating under the delusion that this “recession” will end and that the “good times” will return soon, but a growing minority of Americans are starting to realize that things are fundamentally changing and that they better start preparing for what is ahead. These “preppers” come from all over the political spectrum and from every age group.  More than at any other time in modern history, the American people lack faith in the U.S. economic system.  In dozens of previous columns, I have detailed the horrific economic problems that we are now facing in excruciating detail.  Many readers have started to complain that all I do is “scare” people and that I don’t provide any practical solutions.  Well, not everyone can move to Montana and start a llama farm, but hopefully this article will give people some practical steps that they can take to insulate themselves (at least to an extent) from the coming economic collapse.
But before I get into what people need to do, let’s take a minute to understand just how bad things are getting out there.  The economic numbers in the headlines go up and down and it can all be very confusing to most Americans.
However, there are two long-term trends that are very clear and that anyone can understand….
#1) The United States is getting poorer and is bleeding jobs every single month.
#2) The United States is getting into more debt every single month.
When you mention the trade deficit, most Americans roll their eyes and stop listening.  But that is a huge mistake, because the trade deficit is absolutely central to our problems.
Every single month, Americans buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  Every single month tens of billions of dollars more goes out of the country than comes into it.
That means that every single month the United States is getting poorer.
The excess goods and services that we buy from the rest of the world get “consumed” and the rest of the world ends up with more money than when they started.
Each year, hundreds of billions of dollars leave the United States and don’t return.  The transfer of wealth that this represents is astounding.
But not only are we bleeding wealth, we are also bleeding jobs every single month.
The millions of jobs that the U.S. economy is losing to China, India and dozens of third world nations are not going to come back.  Middle class Americans have been placed in direct competition for jobs with workers on the other side of the world who are more than happy to work for little more than slave labor wages.  Until this changes the U.S. economy is going to continue to hemorrhage jobs.
The U.S. government has helped to mask much of this economic bleeding by unprecedented amounts of government spending and debt, but now the U.S. national debt exceeds 13 trillion dollars and is getting worse every single month.  Not only that, but state and local governments all over America are getting into ridiculous amounts of debt.
So, what we have got is a country that gets poorer every single month and loses jobs to other countries every single month and that has accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world which also gets worse every single month.
Needless to say, this cannot last indefinitely.  Eventually the whole thing is just going to collapse like a house of cards.
So what can we each individually do to somewhat insulate ourselves from the economic problems that are coming?….
1 - Get Out Of Debt: The old saying, “the borrower is the servant of the lender”, is so incredibly true.  The key to insulating yourself from an economic meltdown is to become as independent as possible, and as long as you are in debt, you simply are not independent.  You don’t want a horde of creditors chasing after you when things really start to get bad out there.
2 - Find New Sources Of Income: In 2010, there simply is not such a thing as job security.  If you are dependent on a job (“just over broke”) for 100% of your income, you are in a very bad position.  There are thousands of different ways to make extra money.  What you don’t want to do is to have all of your eggs in one basket.  One day when the economy melts down and you are out of a job are you going to be destitute or are you going to be okay?
3 – Reduce Your Expenses: Many Americans have left the rat race and have found ways to live on half or even on a quarter of what they were making previously.  It is possible – if you are willing to reduce your expenses.  In the future times are going to be tougher, so learn to start living with less today.
4 – Learn To Grow Your Own Food: Today the vast majority of Americans are completely dependent on being able to run down to the supermarket or to the local Wal-Mart to buy food.  But what happens when the U.S. dollar declines dramatically in value and it costs ten bucks to buy a loaf of bread?  If you learn to grow your own food (even if is just a small garden) you will be insulating yourself against rising food prices.
5 – Make Sure You Have A Reliable Water SupplyWater shortages are popping up all over the globe.  Water is quickly becoming one of the “hottest” commodities out there.  Even in the United States, water shortages have been making headline news recently.  As we move into the future, it will be imperative for you and your family to have a reliable source of water.  Some Americans have learned to collect rainwater and many others are using advanced technology such as atmospheric water generators to provide water for their families.  But whatever you do, make sure that you are not caught without a decent source of water in the years ahead.
Fresh food that lasts from eFoods Direct (Ad)
6 – Buy Land: This is a tough one, because prices are still quite high.  However, as we have written previously, home prices are going to be declining over the coming months, and eventually there are going to be some really great deals out there.  The truth is that you don’t want to wait too long either, because once Helicopter Ben Bernanke’s inflationary policies totally tank the value of the U.S. dollar, the price of everything (including land) is going to go sky high.  If you are able to buy land when prices are low, that is going to insulate you a great deal from the rising housing costs that will occur when the U.S dollar does totally go into the tank.
7 – Get Off The Grid: An increasing number of Americans are going “off the grid”.  Essentially what that means is that they are attempting to operate independently of the utility companies.  In particular, going “off the grid” will enable you to insulate yourself from the rapidly rising energy prices that we are going to see in the future.  If you are able to produce energy for your own home, you won’t be freaking out like your neighbors are when electricity prices triple someday.
8 – Store Non-Perishable Supplies: Non-perishable supplies are one investment that is sure to go up in value.  Not that you would resell them.  You store up non-perishable supplies because you are going to need them someday.  So why not stock up on the things that you are going to need now before they double or triple in price in the future?  Your money is not ever going to stretch any farther than it does right now.
9 – Develop Stronger Relationships: Americans have become very insular creatures.  We act like we don’t need anyone or anything.  But the truth is that as the economy melts down we are going to need each other.  It is those that are developing strong relationships with family and friends right now that will be able to depend on them when times get hard.
10 – Get Educated And Stay Flexible: When times are stable, it is not that important to be informed because things pretty much stay the same.  However, when things are rapidly changing it is imperative to get educated and to stay informed so that you will know what to do.  The times ahead are going to require us all to be very flexible, and it is those who are willing to adapt that will do the best when things get tough.

Read more - http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/10-practical-steps-that-you-can-take-to-insulate-yourself-at-least-somewhat-from-the-coming-economic-collapse