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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Denial Is Not Just A River In Egypt: 10 Hilarious Examples Of How Clueless Our Leaders Are About The Economy -

Denial Is Not Just A River In Egypt: 10 Hilarious Examples Of How Clueless Our Leaders Are About The Economy - 

They didn't see it coming last time either. Back in 2007, President Bush, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and just about every prominent voice in the financial world were all predicting that we would experience tremendous economic prosperity well into the future. In fact, as late as January 2008 Bernanke boldly declared that "the Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession." At the time, only the "doom and gloomers" were warning that everything was about to fall apart. And of course we all know what happened. But just a few short years later, history seems to be repeating itself. Barack Obama, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and almost every prominent voice in the financial world are all promising that the U.S. "economic recovery" is going to continue even though Europe is coming apart like a 20 dollar suit. But the economic fundamentals tell a different story. Our national debt is more than $6,000,000,000,000 larger than it was back in 2008, the number of Americans on food stamps just hit another brand new all-time record, and the bankers up on Wall Street are selling gigantic mountains of the exact same kind of toxic derivatives that caused so much trouble the last time around. But all of our "leaders" swear that everything is going to be okay. You can believe them if you want, but denial is not just a river in Egypt, and another crash is inevitably coming.

Sadly, many Americans are not even going to see the crash coming because they still have faith in the "experts". They haven't figured out that the "experts" really do not know what they are doing.

The blind are leading the blind, and in the end the results are going to be absolutely tragic.

The following are 10 hilarious examples of how clueless our leaders are about the economy...

#1 When I first came across the following chart the other day, it made me chuckle. It is a chart that supposedly tells us the "probability" of a recession, and it was taken from the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. According to the chart, right now there is a 0.16% chance of a recession...

Smoothed U.S. Recession Probabilities

#2 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has also been proclaiming his belief that the U.S. economy will continue to grow. The following is an excerpt from his recent remarks to Congress...

The pause in real GDP growth last quarter does not appear to reflect a stalling-out of the recovery. Rather, economic activity was temporarily restrained by weather-related disruptions and by transitory declines in a few volatile categories of spending, even as demand by U.S. households and businesses continued to expand. Available information suggests that economic growth has picked up again this year.

And Bernanke also insists that the labor market is "improving"...

Consistent with the moderate pace of economic growth, conditions in the labor market have been improving gradually.

Of course the labor market is not actually improving. I showed this using the Fed's own numbers the other day.

And you can put stock in Bernanke's forecasting ability if you like, but considering his track record of failure in the past, that might not be too wise. Just check out what he was saying before the last financial crisis: "30 Ben Bernanke Quotes That Are So Stupid That You Won’t Know Whether To Laugh Or Cry".

#3 Although Bernanke has such a nightmarish track record of failure, Warren Buffett still has faith in him. In fact, Buffett loves all of the money printing that Bernanke has been doing...

The U.S. economy might be “dead in the water” without the stimulus provided by the Federal Reserve under Chairman Ben Bernanke, according to Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

“I think very cheap money makes things happen, it makes asset values higher. When asset values are higher, people do have a greater propensity to spend,” Buffett told CNBC.

“I think Bernanke has sort of carried the load himself during this period.”

If Buffett thinks the wild money printing that the Fed has been doing is so wonderful, then he probably would have absolutely loved living in the Weimar Republic.

#4 Barack Obama continues to insist that we do not have a debt crisis, but that we will not be able to balance the budget any time in the foreseeable future either.

Even though the national debt has grown by more than 6 trillion dollars under his leadership and our debt to GDP ratio is now well over 100%, Obama does not believe that it is a significant problem...

"We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt"

And Obama certainly does not plan to even come close to balancing the budget during his second term. In fact, he openly admits that we won't see a balanced budget at any point within the next decade...

"We're not gonna balance the budget in 10 years"

Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. will never have a balanced budget ever again under our current system, but most of our politicians are not willing to go that far and admit that sad fact to the American people just yet.

#5 But of course it would certainly help if the U.S. government would stop wasting so much money. For example, did you know that the federal government is helping dead people get free cell phones? The following is from a recent article in the New York Post...

Dead people don’t need cell phones.

That’s the message Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas wants to send Congress, after he says a controversial government-backed program that helps provide phones to low-income Americans ended up sending mobiles to the dead relatives of his constituents. Griffin has introduced a bill that targets the phone hand-out program, which has ballooned into a fiscal headache for the government.

And of course a lot of living people are abusing the free cell phone program as well. Rep. Griffin says that he has heard of some people getting as many as 10 free cell phones from the government...

"I’ve also gotten calls from people who say their employees were bragging about having 10 phones."

#6 Meanwhile, the most prominent economic journalist in the United States, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, continues to insist that it is a good thing for the government to be running up so much debt...

First of all... that trillion-dollar deficit is overwhelmingly the result of a depressed economy. And when the economy's depressed it's good to run a deficit. You don't want the government to try and balance its budget right now.

Krugman is also operating under the delusion that the federal government "can't run out of cash", that it can just print money whenever it wants and that printing giant piles of money would not hurt anything.

The United States is a country that has its own currency--can’t run out of cash because we print the money. If you even try to think what would happen--suppose that investors get down on the United States. Even so, that would weaken the dollar, not send interest rates soaring, and that would be good. That would help our exports

It is frightening that the top economic journalist in America has such little understanding of how our system actually works. I would encourage Krugman to read a couple of my previous articles so that he won't be so ignorant in the future...

#7 Many Americans have wondered why the federal government never seems to go after the big Wall Street banks. Well, now we know why. The other day, the Attorney General of the United States admitted that the federal government is very hesitant to prosecute anyone from the big banks because of what it might do to the global economy...

"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy"

So I guess we now live in a world where there is a different set of rules for the big banks, eh?

Most of us already knew that this was the case, but it is quite chilling to hear the Attorney General of the United States publicly admit this.

#8 Many of the big Wall Street banks are absolutely giddy that the Dow keeps setting new all-time highs, and many of them are projecting wonderful things ahead for the U.S. economy. For example, here is one forecast from Morgan Stanley's Vincent Reinhart ...

"In the Morgan Stanley forecast for the US, the trajectory of economic activity marks an inflection point midway through 2013. The severe financial crisis of 2008-09 necessitated significant downward adjustments by the private sector to the levels of aggregate demand and efficient supply. As the event recedes further into history, however, the drag on growth from these ongoing level adjustments plays out.

In our forecast, the expansion of real GDP steps up to around 2-3/4 percent in the second half of this year and beyond."

#9 Vice-President Joe Biden is pushing economic optimism to ridiculous levels. Apparently he believes that most Americans are "no longer worried" that a major economic crisis is coming...

But all kidding aside, I think the American people have moved -- Democrats, Republicans, independents. They know that the possibilities for this country are immense. They're no longer traumatized by what was a traumatizing event, the great collapse in 2008. They're no longer worried, I think, about our economy being overwhelmed either by Europe writ large, the EU, or China somehow swallowing up every bit of innovation that exists in the world. They're no longer, I think, worried about our economy being overwhelmed beyond our shores.

And I don't think they're any more -- there’s no -- there’s very little doubt in any circles out there about America’s ability to be in position to lead the world in the 21st century, not only in terms of our foreign policy, our incredible defense establishment, but economically.

#10 Right now, many in the financial world are projecting that this will be a year to remember for the stock market. During a recent interview with Fox Business, Wharton School of Business Finance Professor Jeremy Siegel declared that the Dow will cross the 16,000 mark by the end of this year...

"I think by the end of this year, we’ll be in the 16,000 to 17,000 range."

Of course it is true that other analysts have a much different view of things. Many of them are absolutely amazed that the U.S. economy has become so disconnected from economic reality. For example, just check out what Steve Russell and Hamish Baillie, fund managers at the Ruffer Investment Company, recently had to say...

"If this was explained to a recently arrived Martian he would no doubt be puzzled – US unemployment has almost doubled since 2007, GDP [gross domestic product] growth is a third lower and debt as a percentage of GDP is within a whisker of doubling. The market is forward looking but this is extreme"

So who is right and who is wrong?

Time will tell.

Fortunately, it appears that the American people are getting fed up with the constant stream of lies that they have been told.

According to a new Pew Research survey, just 26 percent of all Americans trust the government to do the right thing.

So what about you?

Do you trust what the government and the "experts" are telling you?

Do you trust them to do the right thing?

Feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below...

Read more -

U.S. to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances -

U.S. to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances - 

The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.

Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of "suspicious customer activity," such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database. However, intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, currently have to make case-by-case requests for information to FinCEN.

The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before, helping them look for patterns that could reveal attack plots or criminal schemes.

The planning document, dated March 4, shows that the proposal is still in its early stages of development, and it is not known when implementation might begin.

Financial institutions file more than 15 million "suspicious activity reports" every year, according to Treasury. Banks, for instance, are required to report all personal cash transactions exceeding $10,000, as well as suspected incidents of money laundering, loan fraud, computer hacking or counterfeiting.

"For these reports to be of value in detecting money laundering, they must be accessible to law enforcement, counter-terrorism agencies, financial regulators, and the intelligence community," said the Treasury planning document.

A Treasury spokesperson said U.S. law permits FinCEN to share information with intelligence agencies to help detect and thwart threats to national security, provided they adhere to safeguards outlined in the Bank Secrecy Act. "Law enforcement and intelligence community members with access to this information are bound by these safeguards," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Some privacy watchdogs expressed concern about the plan when Reuters outlined it to them.


‘North Korean’ propaganda video shows dystopian America - claims U.S. eat birds, live off snow and shelter in tents -

‘North Korean’ propaganda video shows dystopian America - claims U.S. eat birds, live off snow and shelter in tents - 

A PROPAGANGA video apparently made by North Korea claims US citizens live off SNOW and have eaten the country's entire population of BIRDS.
The bizarre film shows a dystopian American society where the streets are piled with body-bags and filled with homeless drug addicts.
Most people are forced to live in tents and “buy guns to kill each other, especially children”, according to the video.
It even shows North Koreans coming to the aid of hapless Americans, with the regime’s camera crew doling out cakes, blankets and “North Korean coffee”.
But some internet users branded the video a hoax. It’s unclear if the voiceover’s translation is accurate and whether the video, which surfaced on Chinese website Ifeng, did in fact originate in North Korea.

Read more: - 

Medicare provider give away $20 grocery cards to lure patients -

Medicare provider give away $20 grocery cards to lure patients - 

The Department of Health and Human Services has given qualified approval for a Medicare provider to give away $20 grocery gift cards to induce seniors to get more taxpayer-funded health screenings, despite concerns the promotion could run afoul of federal anti-kickback laws.

The HHS inspector general, the agency's internal watchdog, gave the OK in a little-noticed advisory opinion earlier this year, declaring it would not punish the provider's good intentions even if the giveaway strayed into questionable legal territory.

“The goal of the gift card program was to incentivize patients to receive health screenings and other clinical services,” the inspector general wrote. "...Although the Proposed Arrangement could potentially generate prohibited remuneration under the anti-kickback statute if the requisite intent to induce or reward referrals of Federal health care program business were present, the Office of Inspector General would not impose administrative sanctions."

HHS doesn't normally identify the names of organizations or people who requested advisory opinions, and officials declined to identify the medical facility that is considering the grocery card promotion.

Under the plan, the provider would pay the cost of the gift cards out of its own budget, meaning no tax dollars would be used for the promotion. But because the grocery card giveaway would entice seniors to get screenings and other care that would then be charged to taxpayers under Medicare or Medicaid, the legal issues were kicked to the inspector general.
The advisory opinion stands in contrast to courts which have deemed similar cases to be illegal in the past.  Just last year, Walgreens pharmacy had to pay the government $7.9 million after a court ruled it was illegal to try to woo Medicare and Medicaid patients with free gifts.  According to court records, Walgreens offered patients incentives “in the form of gift cards, gift checks and other similar promotions that are prohibited by law, to transfer their prescriptions to Walgreens pharmacies.”

At the time, the inspector general came down against the free gifts.

“This settlement makes clear that corporations seeking increased profits over their patients’ needs will pay a substantial price,” IG Daniel Levinson said at the time.

The legal concerns stem from Section 1128B(b) of the Social Security Act, known as the “anti-kickback statute” which “makes it a criminal offense to knowingly and willfully offer, pay, solicit, or receive any remuneration to induce or reward referrals of items or services reimbursable by a Federal health care program,” investigators said.

There are many risks surrounding rewards for medical practices, the IG said.

“First, such programs can corrupt the decision-making process, resulting, for example, in over-utilization, increased costs, or inappropriate medical choices. Second, there is potential harm to competing providers and suppliers who do not, or cannot afford to, offer incentives to generate business. Third, these practices could negatively affect the quality of care given to beneficiaries,” the report noted.  “As providers and suppliers race to the bottom by offering increasingly valuable goods or services, the incentive to offset the cost of these inducements by cheating on the quality of the Medicare or Medicaid item or service increases proportionately.”


Were we wrong about the Wright Brothers? - Gustav Whitehead flew over Connecticut in 1901, 2 years before Wright Bros. -

Were we wrong about the Wright Brothers? - Gustav Whitehead flew over Connecticut in 1901, 2 years before Wright Bros. - 

Were we wrong about the Wright Brothers?
That's the shocking claim by Australian aviation historian John Brown, who told FoxNews.com he has photographic proof that German immigrant Gustav Whitehead flew over Connecticut in 1901 -- Orville and Wilbur were second.
“Two years, four months, and three days before the Wright brothers, somebody else flew first,” Brown said via phone from Germany. "It’s really a radical revision of the history of aviation."

Even “Jane’s: All the World’s Aircraft” -- widely considered the essential bible of flight -- has acknowledged Whitehead's achievement and Brown's research. With the headline "justice delayed is justice denied," editor-in-chief Paul Jackson wrote about the early aviator's story for the overview to the newly released 100th edition of the reference guide, published online on Saturday. 
“Today, it seems impossible that a vast cache of documentary evidence ... can be overlooked by the world at large,” he wrote.
The Wright brothers soared into history books on Dec. 17, 1903, following their historic, 852-foot, 59-second flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina -- an achievement for which the duo are widely described as being “first in flight.” But historians have long known that others were working on a variety of flying machines, including a fellow U.S. resident, German immigrant Gustav Whitehead (born Weisskopf).
Whitehead flew early in the morning of Aug. 14, 1901, Brown said. His winged, bird-like plane was called  No. 21, or "The Condor"; with wooden wheels and canvas wings stretched taut across bat-like wooden arms, it rose over the darkened streets of Bridgeport, Conn., and covered an estimated 1.5 miles at a height of 50 feet, he said.
Whitehead brought the chief editor of the Bridgeport Herald to witness the event, which led to a news article for the paper and a photo of the historic event -- a photo that, unfortunately for history, turned out to be awfully blurry.
“There were four journalists who saw the photo back in the early 1900s. They saw it up close, the real-life version. I have to use their eyes to be able to see it,” Brown, who has cultivated a vast crop of information on Whitehead, told FoxNews.com.

Whitehead’s story has long been a widely known but buried fact of history, one studied at length by numerous aviation enthusiasts. Tom Crouch, who has written four books on the Wright brothers, is one of them. He remains unswayed.
"Gimme a break," Crouch told FoxNews.com. "I have not seen anything that convinced me that Whitehead got off the ground in a powered machine at all."
The problem is that the blurry original photo disappeared years ago, but numerous newspaper articles about the event are easy to track down -- many of them are linked from Brown's website. There's a copy of the Bridgeport Sunday Herald from Aug. 18, 1901, and the Washington Times from Aug. 23, 1901, for example. The site also has pictures from a German museum dedicated to Whitehead.
One image is of key interest: a 1906 photograph of an exhibit on Whitehead’s flight, taken at an aviation exhibition. The 1906 photograph shows several other photographs of the man and his flying machine -- possibly including the lost blurry original of the historic flight in 1901. Brown said he asked Bavarian police to analyze the photos seen in the 1906 image.
“The photo has been enlarged 3,500 percent,” Brown said. It validated the blurry picture, and the analysis confirms the numerous early press reports on Whitehead’s flight as well, he claims.
“He had the only monoplane. It’s a high-wing monoplane, and it has a big mast in the middle. It’s obviously his plane.”
"And it’s in the air, so it’s obviously flying," he told FoxNews.com.
Other experts remained skeptical of Brown's claims: Peter Jakab, associate director of curatorial affairs for the Smithsonian Museum, said the 1906 photograph was examined thoroughly long ago.
“I see a lot of blurriness. I don’t see a lot of airplanes,” he joked. He argues that the legacy of Orville and Wilbur's plane is more important anyway.
“It was able to evolve into something we have today. And that’s its real powerful significance -- in addition to being the first to fly,” Jakab told FoxNews.com. Crouch went so far as to call Whitehead a pretender, noting that people he worked with in later years didn't believe he had flown.
“Up until now, historians said he was a pretender, a fake and a fraud. The truth is quite the opposite,” Brown told FoxNews.com.
The German Interior minister on Tuesday awarded €9.5 million for a new museum dedicated to Whitehead, Brown noted. But first or second, that investment might be taking things too far -- even for Brown.
“[Whitehead] applied for U.S. citizenship. This is something the Americans should be celebrating more than the Germans,” he said.