Place Your Bets - Oil at $200 a Barrel?!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 , , 1 Comments

Well kids, as you may know, I'm a bit of a pessimist. As much as I would love to look at the glass as "half full", due to the nature of this blog - or rather, the subject - it is impossible to view the glass as anything but not only empty but smashed to bits.

So in the spirit of keeping my depressing viewpoint as hopeless as ever, and due to a few conversations I've had with the Twitterati, I'm taking bets on projections for early 2009 gas prices.

On December 17th, OPEC announced its largest production cut in history, vowing to cut its output by 2.2 million barrels per day. The logic behind this move is understandable as oil teetered at >$40 a barrel, however, initial reaction to the cut was not what OPEC had been banking on. Surely it takes more than a couple days to send prices back up to the financial assrape levels we'd seen over the summer.

What OPEC didn't take into consideration, of course, is that you cannot fuck with people indefinitely. The average person will only allow you to screw them over for a certain amount of time before they buck up and say enough is enough. The free market, though damaged by the hallucinatory "cash injection" dope on behalf of #1 pushers Bernaulson, has spoken. People learned taking public transportation or downsizing to something more reasonable than a Hummer isn't as bad as they thought it would be; now that we've adjusted to life without an oil IV, OPEC is panicking. As they rightly should be.

Now if everything goes according to Bernaulson's evil little plan, the FAILout money will create liquidity which will create lending which will create consumption which will start the whole game all over again. Which will lead, inevitably, right back to where we are today. But that's irrelevant. Mostly because we all know their plan isn't exactly working out. If Bernaulson has its way, no one will notice how bad things are and will gladly fork over $4 a gallon.

So let the bets begin!

I'm willing to wager that we'll be back up to at least $3/gallon nationally by summer. This is merely a projection and let's all keep in mind that I am not a free market "expert" nor an "economist" nor a "psychic" so I'm just taking a stab in the dark.

Of course we're all broke so there is no money involved but I'd like to hear from you (yes, YOU TOO, Jr Deputy Stalker! I see you reading my blog!) - up or down? In June we'll take a look at the comments and see who gets to wear the "Honorary Miss Cleo" hat for their exceptional "looking forward into the future" skills!

p.s. There is a PRIZE to be had (determined by me and dependent on whether or not we are in a state of full chaos and anarchy by the time we shuffle boldly towards Summer of 09)!


Fleeced by Fiat

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 , , , , 3 Comments

"Mischief springs from the power which the moneyed interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges... which are employed altogether for their benefit." - Andrew Jackson

Fiat money. It makes me giggle to read it over and over, to say it, to discuss it. Fiat money. Specie. Fractional reserve. It's all very hilarious when you stop and think for a moment that every dollar that crosses your palm is really just funny money. How we fleeced the entire world into buying into the grand scheme I'll never know.

Warren Buffett, bless his heart, insisted that Detroit should have to cough up cash if they wanted to take part in the FAILout madness; while in theory, this makes sense, it is really just an elaborate ruse to make it appear as though they have a stake in the matter. They don't. You covered the bill.

In order to cover the hidden tax of inflation (not to mention the inevitable taxation that will occur under OMGObama - how else does he expect to be savior of the free world if he doesn't take it out of our hides?), I will need to see my pay rise by $4,597.90 in the next 5 years. You can use this handy inflation calculator to figure out your own hidden tax. Point being, I will need nearly $1000 extra a year just to maintain my current standard of living. That raise I'm working hard to earn? It's already ear-marked by the system as an inflationary tax. $17 a week. $76 a month. $900+ for the year. And this is using old data; who can say what the Fed's latest boneheaded move will do?

So how much has Bernanke's army of helicopters cost us to date? Let's take a look!

From Slapstick Politics, this report from Jim Puplava, investment advisor and CEO of Puplava Financial Services, Inc., who does the math so you don't have to:

· For commercial paper, we have allocated $1.8 trillion;
· The Term Auction Facility, which provides negotiated rate for banks to borrow from the FED, has allocated $900 billion;
· Other assets have $606 billion;
· Finance company debt purchases, like the Fannie and Freddie bailouts, have received $600 billion;
· Money Market Facilities have $540 billion;
· The Citigroup bailout cost $291 billion;
· Term Security Lending has $250 billion;
· Term Asset Backed Loan Facilities (TALF), designed to help credit cards and business loans, has $200 billion;
· The bailout for AIG cost us $123 billion;
· Discount Window Borrowings has been allocated $92 billion;
· Commercial Program Number 2, which helps banks buy commercial paper from mutual funds, received $62 billion;
· Discount Window Number 2 has $50 billion;
· The Bear Stearns bailout cost $29 billion;
· Overnight loans have received $10 billion;
· Secondary credit is at $118 billion;
· Federal Deposit Insurance Commitments (FDIC) which guarantees loans, has received $1.4 trillion;
· Guarantees on GE Capital are at $139 billion;
· Citigroup’s second bailout took another $10 billion infusion;
· The Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) we heard so much about has $700 billion;
· The earlier stimulus package this year cost $168 billion;
· Treasury Exchange Stabilization Fund took $50 billion;
· Tax breaks for banks are at $29 billion;
· And Hope for Homeowners devoured $300 billion

Where do you think this money comes from?

Fiat. *giggle* Which really means: "You paid through the nose via decreased buying power and will probably not see a penny of your investment."

Is it a coincidence that every single form of fiat money since the Roman Empire has eventually been completely devalued and therefore worthless? No. That's the nature of the beast.


Danger: Moral Hazard Ahead, Next Three Miles

Ever heard of a little group called the Trilateral Commission? As you will realize if you one day decide to stop blindly following reality TV and the distortions of mainstream media, the workings of the world as a whole are orchestrated not by whatever "Higher Power" you may believe in but instead by a limited group of individuals driven by their own personal interests. This is not some wild idea propagated by whacked out pot smokers with too much time on their hands. This is a reality. But that is not what this post is about.

The stated purpose of the Trilateral Commission is:

The Trilateral Commission was formed in 1973 by private citizens of Japan, Europe (European Union countries), and North America (United States and Canada) to foster closer cooperation among these core democratic industrialized areas of the world with shared leadership responsibilities in the wider international system. Originally established for three years, our work has been renewed for successive triennia (three-year periods), most recently for a triennium to be completed in 2009

Someone's obviously obsessed. Coincidentally, the all-seeing eye symbol rooted in Illuminati tradition happens to be a, naturally, three-sided pyramid.

Where the hell am I going with this?

It just so happens that due to a certain little financial crisis, three banks now control a third of American deposits. OMG! It's a conspiracy!

Not really.

JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Citigroup are the Trilateral Commission of Banking; just as subversive, just as secretive, and just as diabolical. The larger the monster, the harder it will be to slay it when it comes time to draw arms against the beast.

The Philadelphia Inquirer warns of "banking martial law" replete with curfews and "convenience fees":

This year's massive consolidation - much of it pushed through on an emergency basis by regulators - is creating conditions that could eventually harm consumers and could lay the groundwork for an even bigger financial meltdown in the future, experts said.

"What's most amazing to us is that there's no public input or comment," said Matthew Lee, executive director of Inner City Press/Fair Finance Watch. "We are basically living under banking martial law," he said, "and the public has to stay inside their homes."

I will save you the endless links connecting every OMGObama cabinet member except Stephen Chu to the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. You can do your own Googling.

My point here (whether you believe Zbigniew Brzezinski is attempting to rule the world with JP Morgan chair and Federal Reserve stakeholder David Rockefeller or not) is that all this "bailing out for the sake of the free market" is in fact strangling the "free" market to death. The free market establishes its own rules (hence: free) and functions under the reliable ole rule of supply and demand. The market we have now is so distorted by corruption, deceit, deception, and forced control that it is a broken monster shuffling across the landscape obliterating anything in its path.

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) said it best when he said "The free market for all intents and purposes is dead in America."

Meanwhile, you, dear taxpayer, are liable (via inflation) for all the bailouts, all the new money, all the swaps gone wrong, and all the financial fallout.

Welcome to our new market. You're fucked. In case you didn't get the memo.


Smashing Boldly Through the "Discount Window"

Monday, December 29, 2008 , , , 0 Comments

The FDIC would like you to think that the federal acquisition of IndyMac cost them $8.9 billion. The FDIC would also like you to sympathize with them for having to absorb such a huge liability because, after all, they did it for the greater good of the public.

Sheila Bair would like you to think that the FDIC only covers the insured deposits and would also like you to believe that $500 million in uninsured assets will be "lost forever" to depositors (either because they are too large or are foreign holdings outside of the FDIC's jurisdiction) though the real number is around $1 billion.

If you've been paying attention, you already know that the FDIC is A) a grand work of accounting fiction and B) broke after absorbing 26 failed banks in 2008 (compared to 3 in 2007 and 0 in 2005/2006.

Apparently JP Morgan didn't want anything to do with IndyMac otherwise it'd have been gobbled up already.

Now that IndyMac is on the block, the question is who is stupid or prosperous enough to take on a toxic beast now tagged with "federal" after the name?

Paging Dr. Bernanke. Please pick up the white courtesy phone.


Gold-plated Hyperinflation

And on the fifth day, there was hyperinflation.
And it was NOT good.

"Since 2004, when the amount of the government bond issuance reached an annual average of $400 billion, 94% of new buyers of US government bonds have been foreigners" according to Kazuo Mizuno, chief economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Co.

Keep in mind that the dollar has, coincidentally, lost 39.2% of its value since 2001, leaving us broke and now bought out by a foreign majority.

Why do we care about foreign holdings anyway? They like our money so we like them, no? Wrong.

John Williams' Shadow Government Statistics points out the issue at hand:

As to point (1), any foreign holdings of U.S. credit market instruments thrown into the U.S. market are on the margin, and represent two full years of regular credit-market borrowing, to the extent the FOF numbers can be believed. Foreign holdings also are not insignificant in the Treasuries’ market. Rest of World holdings of U.S. Treasuries likely are somewhere between 44% and 55% of the total, depending on the numbers used, and Communist China purportedly holds somewhere close to half the total of those foreign holdings.

As to point (2), this where the Federal Reserve accelerates monetizing the federal debt and initiating the early phases of the hyperinflation.
The Fed has been monetizing everything it can find in an attempt to pump liquidity into the market. Meanwhile, foreigners are bailing out of U.S. markets and sending all those precious dollars back to our shores.

But it would be ignorant to assume that the amount of dollars in circulation is the only factor contributing towards the hyperinflationary ride we are about to embark on. Where it all goes wrong is when confidence in currency collapses. A governmental beast, gorging itself on debt, engaged in a seemingly endless war, and pumping out capital just to feed its unsustainable greedy needs cannot possibly keep up appearances indefinitely; it is when confidence in the beast is shaken that deflation takes hold. It is when the bottom drops out and confidence is tanked that hyperinflation sets in; holders of such currency, inspired by continued reports of ailing economic conditions now seek to unload worthless assets (or, in our case, fiat money made exponentially more worthless than it should be by shady accounting and fractional reserve banking), sparking a spending crisis. There will not be enough to buy as anyone with a dollar to their name will seek to unload it.Mathematician Antal E. Fekete insists that as of December 2, 2008, gold has for the first time in history gone into backwardation:

I founded Gold Standard University Live (GSUL) two years ago and dedicated it to research of monetary issues that are pointedly ignored by universities, government think-tanks, and the financial press, centered around the question of long-term viability of the regime of irredeemable currency. Historical experiments with that type of currency were many but all of them, without exception, have ended in ignominious failure accompanied with great economic pain, unless the experiment was called off in good time and the authorities returned to monetary rectitude, that is, to a metallic monetary standard. It is also worth pointing out that the present experiment is unique in that all countries of the world indulge in it. Not one country is on a metallic monetary standard, under which the Treasury and the Central Bank are subject to the same contract law as ordinary citizens. They cannot issue irredeemable promises to pay and keep them in monetary circulation through a conspiracy known as check-kiting. Not one country will be spared from the fire and brimstone that once rained on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as a punishment of God for immoral behavior.

In all previous episodes there were some countries around that did not listen to the siren song and stayed on the gold standard. They could give a helping hand to the deviant ones, thus limiting economic pain. Today there are no such countries. If you want to be saved, you must be prepared to save yourself. You cannot understand the process whereby a fiat money system self-destructs without understanding the gold and silver basis. The Quantity Theory of Money does not provide an explanation, because deflation may well precede hyperinflation, as it appears to be the case right now.

Gold going to permanent backwardation means that gold is no longer for sale at any price, whether it is quoted in dollars, yens, euros, or Swiss francs. The situation is exactly the same as it has been for years: gold is not for sale at any price quoted in Zimbabwe currency, however high the quote is. To put it differently, all offers to sell gold are being withdrawn, whether it concerns newly mined gold, scrap gold, bullion gold or coined gold. I dubbed this event that has cast its long shadow forward for many a year, the last contango in Washington ― contango being the name for the condition opposite to backwardation (namely, that of a positive basis), and Washington being the city where the Paper-mill of the Potomac, the Federal Reserve Board, is located. This is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that the jig in Washington is up. The music has stopped on the players of ‘musical chairs’. Those who have no gold in hand are out of luck. They won’t get it now through the regular channels. If they want it, they will have to go to the black market.

Safe to say, this is not the foreigners' fault. And you better not be sending your "scrap" gold to those fly-by-night SELL IT FOR CASH! infomercial scams. Hold tight.

Summary: Our fiat money is worthless, the foreigners will be blamed somehow, the government is a fat pig of waste and excess, and you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting your hands on the only thing worth anything these days.

Look on the bright side. At least you have your health?


It Was a Good Year for the Accountants

Sunday, December 28, 2008 4 Comments

Also known as "The Obligatory 2008 Year in Retrospect Post."

I know, I know. It's not even the end of the year yet. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would just like this old workhorse to be put out of her misery. But I've got to find an apartment and we've got four new Live locations opening up in the beginning of 2009 that I have to worry about, not to mention I'm raising a 5 year old and trying to save the world one bean counter at a time. So I may not have time to get to this on Wednesday.

2008 was a profoundly difficult and exciting year for me. In some ways, it dragged on like a deer shuffling away from the car crash that just destroyed its legs. In others, it ran too quickly to keep up with. However time appeared during this monumental year, I cannot pretend that it was not spectacular.

I had my first art show in San Francisco. That's kind of a big deal. I'd only started painting again in November of 2007 after a nearly decade-long hiatus. I showed 7 pieces and sold 3, one the very first night. The girl who bought it insisted on getting a picture with me and bragged to friends that she'd been the one to snatch up my first sold piece. I sold two more, one as far as Seattle, Washington. I met up with friends' of its new owner who were vacationing in San Francisco to hand it off. The woman who bought it said she would hang it above the bed in her "cougar boudoir." I am currently having my 2nd show through the end of the year.

The company was ridiculously amazing this year. We saw incredible growth, moved into the Portland market, introduced an iPhone CPA Review course (come on, how awesome is that?!), and dove head first into the world of social media. First and foremost, I have a job in this economy. But more importantly, I have an amazing job. And from where I'm standing, the CPAs are doing alright. There have been a few sad stories, and mortgage brokers turning instead to accounting, and too many wonderful "OMG I passed, thank you!" e-mails to count. It's been exhausting but fulfilling and I'm excited to see what 2009 holds for us.

I started this little blog. Just a few months ago, our company graphic designer insisted I start a blog. "People would absolutely read it!" he'd tell me. I ignored him for months. Finally, in September, something clicked. Maybe I needed something to put my effort into that wasn't work. Whatever it was, this was born. Which brings me to...

I discovered my love for economics. Or maybe it's a love of ragging on the inherent problems of economics. Somehow I found myself chasing down one component (the Federal Reserve) of a pretty sinister concept (the New World Order) and it's been a focus ever since. I'd like to think it's my inner accountant dying to express herself in dollar value charts and reserve ratios.

I did my first San Francisco Bay to Breakers. Oh, and made it out alive in one piece. It will definitely be a yearly tradition for me. I also did AIDSWalk for the second year in a row and raised over $600 for those affected by HIV/AIDS in the Bay Area.

I reached my goal weight. After working my little butt off to drop 80 pounds beginning in 2006, 2008 was the year I reached that goal and then some. I am now in better shape than I was in high school!

I met some amazing and unforgettable people. Yes Twitterati and accounting bloggers, I'm talking about you all. I have connected with people who I admire, who guide me in the ways of finance blogging, who share tidbits of info like map pieces towards to big picture. It has been an absolute honor to meet these people who I may not have even known of if it weren't for the big wide world web; they keep me entertained, focused, inspired, and grounded. I have found a mentor (though perhaps he doesn't even know it) and countless strangers I count among my friends due to the unique avenue that is social media and I'm looking forward to sharing our 2009 successes.

There have been some defeats this year as well but it's the positive that encourages me as far as 2009 is concerned.

No one can claim this has not been a wacky, upside-down, frightening and out-of-control year. But it also proved to be a catalyst for me. Coincidentally, 2008 is the 10 year anniversary of me reaching legal adulthood (some might argue it is also the first year since that I have acted like one).

I am hopeful for what 2009 holds. We've got a new president on the way, a continued financial collapse to weather, and who knows what else on the radar. And I'll be there watching all of it, chasing down conspiracies, making jokes about the ridiculousness of all of it, and trying to guard my own butt and the butts of those near and dear to me so we can all make it through without too much trouble.

So here's to 2009. I'm no psychic but I'm willing to wager that it will be just as exciting and frightening as the year we're about to bury.

Feliz año nuevo, kids. I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty of each other next year. Be well and be good to one another!


FDIC = Federal Dicking of Ignorant Consumers

A wise friend of mine today reminded me of a classic expression I hadn't heard in quite some time. "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."

Funny. I'd just read about Continental Illinois Bank, 7th largest bank in the nation when it teetered on collapse in the early 1980's (I was in diapers, forgive me if I cannot give a first-hand account of this).

Continental experienced historic growth up until its bloated loan portfolio hit the $254 million mark, or rather, until it was poisoned by failed Penn Square Bank and the Latin American debt crisis. And by that point, it was carrying a toxic load of $2.3 billion in questionable loans.

Reuters reported at 11:39a on 5/8/1984 via wire that "banks in the Netherlands, West Germany, Switzerland, and Japan had increased their interest rate on Continental loans and that some had withdrawn their funds."

Keep in mind, there was no Internet as we know it; no fanatical bloggers, no Twitter to Retweet, no e-mail, no texting. (I have to remind myself, thanks)

By the next morning, foreign investors scrambled to pull their deposits, including $1 billion in Asian currency in the very first day. Keep in mind that in 1984, median American income was $22,415. The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps excellent Consumer Price Index records on their website that you can search through if you'd like to get really depressed about inflation. Point being, you can do the math. Even if you hate math, a candy bar cost 25 cents when I was 5 (two years after Continental Illinois fell to her knees) - 23 years later, the same size candy bar is up to 99 cents. Not to mention that it's leaped significantly over the last 5 years.

Four days after Reuters released the report that Continental Illinois may have been in trouble, the bank had to come knocking at the Federal Reserve's door for $3.6 billion to pay depositors the money they were scrambling to pull out which the bank did not have. That's our friend fractional reserve banking hard at work dicking around with your money.

At this point, the crisis had escaped public scrutiny. In fact, no one really knew anything was going wrong. Tellers wished customers a "good day" and your sad little $500 paycheck was nothing compared to the $9.6 billion (plus interest) the bank now owed to the Fed and a gangbang of 16 banks (led by, who else, Morgan Guaranty. As in our buddy JP Morgan, stakeholder in the Fed) who'd lent them money to make good on deposit guarantees.

The bank was bleeding to death. And now that the banking cartels had a stake in her failure, it was imperative to tap the government to come save them all.

Of course, there had to be a conscious effort to convince the public that the failure of this bank would be detrimental to their happiness. Though only 4 percent of Continental's liability was covered by the FDIC's fictional insurance plan, the entire thing had to be salvaged. So take a guess at who covered the other 96% of Continental's risk-taking?

FDIC director Irvine Sprague, in the midst of the Continental bailout press release said:

The Fed would lend to Continental to meet "any extraordinary liquidity requirements." That would include another run. All agreed that Continental could not be saved without 100 percent insurance by the FDIC and unlimited liquidity support by the Federal Reserve. No plan would work without these two elements.

They just taxed your ass. And you didn't even know it.

Don't miss:

Continental: Round Two

Round Three.

Round Four.

Round Five.

What was that thing about insanity and doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting a different result?


The Fictional Accounting of the FDIC: Part Two

Saturday, December 27, 2008 , , , , 0 Comments

Earlier this month, after a 26th bank failed in the U.S., I went after the FDIC trying to uncover how exactly they could cover the debts of 26 failed banks.

Realizing that the U.S. Treasury was in fact liable for the FDIC's promise was just the beginning.

The "game" is engineered in such a way so as to promote bad behavior. If a bank knows it is basically insured against failure, where is the incentive for a bank to take on responsible loans? There is none. The "safety net" effectively creates chaos; the consequences of which are exactly what we are seeing now.

As G. Edward Griffin points out in "The Creature From Jekyll Island", the FDIC "embodies the principle of moral hazard."

The FDIC is usually described as an insurance fund, but that is deceptive advertising at its worst. One of the primary conditions of insurance is that it must avoid what underwriters call "moral hazard." That is a situation in which the policyholder has little incentive to avoid or prevent that which is being insured again. When moral hazard is present, it is normal for people to become careless, and the likelihood increases that what is being insured against will actually happen. An example would be a government program forcing everyone to pay an equal amount into a fund to protect them from the expense of parking fines. One hesitates even to mention this absurd proposition lest some enterprising politician should decide to put it on the ballot. Therefore, let us hasten to point out that, if such a numb-skull plan were adopted, two things would happen: (1) just about everyone soon would be getting parking tickets and (2) since there now would be so many of them, the taxes to pay for all those tickets would greatly exceed the previous cost of paying them without the so-called protection.

On top of moral hazard, the FDIC will frequently cover both insured and non-insured deposits in an attempt to salvage a floundering bank. Non-insured deposits include those over $100,000 and foreign holdings. Though the bank is paying "insurance" on insured deposits only, the FDIC will cover those the bank has not been making payments on under the guise that should that bank fail, it would wreck havoc on the public.

The truth of the matter, of course, is that a bank failure will wreck havoc on the banking cartels. Smaller banks are allowed to fail, are broken up and devoured by larger banks. Case in point, Washington Mutual, bought up by JP Morgan using TARP bailout money. All of this done at taxpayer expense, naturally.

We're being fleeced here, folks. Doubly so; as the Federal Reserve has increased the money supply to unsustainable levels, therefore sending our dollar into a death spiral and encouraging raging inflation (the new money is unlikely to be "sterilized" though the Fed certainly has the means to do so), they also used that new, more worthless money to fund failures that were encouraged by the nature of the system.

Happy Saturday. Better invest in a new mattress.


The Fed's False Advertising and Why You Still Don't Care

It is a shame that G. Edward Griffin's "The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve" is not only 2 1/2 pounds, 608 pages, and unwieldy but also addresses a topic that few Americans know or care about. The beginnings of the Federal Reserve in this country are secretive, subversive, and now leave us at a point where we stand to lose nearly everything on account of the Fed's bad accounting, manipulation, and over-stepped bounds.

This is not fodder for whacked-out conspiracy theorists. It is the truth about your money.

Griffin's book does not have a pretty cover. It is not an escapist story about some hot guy who meets some hot girl and it is not on sale at Borders for $6.99. Oprah will never call it Book of the Month (she'd rather pick a fake story about drug addiction marketed as an autobiography), you probably won't see anyone reading it on the bus, and it is not likely to be passed around book clubs. In fact, Griffin's tale of the Fed (and it's quite a doozy) may be the best book that you will never read in your life.

Griffin begins by stating simply that the Fed must be dismantled for the following reasons:

  • It is incapable of accomplishing its stated objectives
  • It is a cartel operating against the public interest
  • It is the supreme instrument of usury
  • It generates our most unfair tax
  • It encourages war
  • It destabilizes the economy
  • It is an instrument of totalitarianism

Now how could a government agency be guilty of such treasonous crimes? Well, that answer is easy. The Fed isn't a government agency. It's a privately-owned printing press, crime syndicate, and Monopoly bank pumping out worthless paper which we then have to pay for in the form of decreased buying power. Meanwhile, we've got to work just as hard to earn money which buys us less and less every year.

Is it a coincidence that personal income tax and the Federal Reserve were both written into American history in the same year and have been bending us over ever since?

Social Security (don't get me started) beneficiaries' checks increased this month 5.8% due to inflation - the largest increase since 1982 - according to CalCPA.

While the Fed is over there having a quantitative easing orgy, the non-macro economists over here at Ground Zero (myself included) are wondering when this much-needed liquidity will make its way to our paychecks, wallets, and investment returns. The fact that the Federal Reserve believes quantitative easing will solve anything shows that they're just as loopy as the investors trying to react to that very easing; it has only been done once before in Japan in 2001 and was met with mixed results. It throws normal rules of economics to the wind, a "let's see and hope this works" approach to a very calculated concept. Quantitative easing is like dosing the economy with LSD and hoping it won't trip its balls off.

Well we're tripping.

Inflation remains the LARGEST TAX Americans pay and the saddest part about the entire scheme is that most Americans don't even recognize it as the tax it is. It isn't that things cost more. It's that there's more money floating around to buy the same amount of useless bullshit (or worse, necessities).

There are few who get it, and many more join the ranks every day. Ron Paul has been an incredible force in the movement to abolish the Federal Reserve, while some are understandably distracted by the fact that Dr.Paul authors more bills than most Representatives - on everything from educational tax credits to term limits. Paul has been a vocal opponent of the Federal Reserve during his 30+ year political career and authored H.R. 2755 to end the Fed once and for all. The bill has sat awaiting committee review since mid 2007.

Do I feel dismantling the Fed will solve all our problems and unleash the unicorns and rainbows? Of course not. The forces which allowed the Fed to exist and feed off of us for nearly 100 years are still in power, deciding how much you should pay for your right to be American while they take away the rights that being American allow you.

So while you may not pick up Griffin's tale of financial betrayal, corruption, and secrecy, all I ask of you is to do your own research. Draw your own conclusions. Don't listen to me, I can't even handle my own money.

End the Fed. Before it's too late.


Dear Canada, Welcome to Our Nightmare

Friday, December 26, 2008 , 0 Comments

Like most exporters, Canada has relied on the United States' insatiable desire for items, crap, and bullshit to fuel its economy. After all, America has long been milking the rest of the world for cheap imports and outsourced labor; which makes our contagious fall from grace all that much more sinister for the countries we've relied on to feed our consumerist habits.

75 percent of Canada's exports are sent to the United States - meaning that though it seemed she was going to make it out of the financial throwdown with nary a scratch on her, it was inevitable that Canada, too, would topple as American supremacy gave way to American panic due to a dismal forecast for the dollar. Canada has long maintained her distance from American political mess, consumption, and excess - instead choosing to sit atop us like a North American Russia, quiet, frozen, huge, and perhaps too clever to get involved in all our fights on the global playground.

Our parasitic bloodsucking of Canada's imports guaranteed that she'd feel the crunch, it was only a matter of time.

We could stand to learn a thing or two from Canada. Even when their GDP was at its weakest in 1990 (again, kicked off by a weakening of the United States), it still increased 0.8 percent.

Canada weathered the global economic storm well through the first three quarters of the year, only beginning to show weakness in Q4. Consumer bankruptcies were up 22.8% since the same time the year previous in October, building permits saw a drop, and the Ivey Index took a notable nosedive in October as well.

2009 Forecasts for Canada, however, are much more optimistic than U.S. projections.

Canada stands to capitalize on its natural resources, especially with OPEC cuts, the continued conflict in the Middle East, and America's ravenous hunger for oil. Canada is actually sitting on the 2nd largest oil jackpot in the world, second only to Saudi Arabia. Luckily the Bush administration is on their way out and could never possibly justify a war with Canada for the sake of oil as they did with Iraq, especially with our military at the breaking point as it stands.

Canada's saving grace may be that unlike our government here at home (which will not even admit that we are in the midst of a depression), PM Stephen Harper wasn't afraid to admit on national television that Canada may be facing a depression.

How will Canada survive?

Just as they always have. By giving America the friendly cold shoulder, staying the hell out of our mess, and stashing their loonies underneath their mattresses.

They're smart, don'tchaknow.


All I Want for Christmas are Some Mortgage-Backed Securities

Alan Greenspan doesn't get nearly enough slack from me, and that's ok because I haven't even touched on him yet. Oh, there's time, Alan. Believe me, I'm comin' for dat ass and it won't be pretty. It's obvious without even getting too deep into it that Greenspan not only manipulated our economy for the worse knowing that we would arrive where we are today, but he had the audacity to tell Congress that he was in "shock" from the entire financial debacle.

Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity – myself especially – are in a state of shocked disbelief.


I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works. That's precisely the reason I was shocked... I still do not fully understand why it happened and obviously to the extent that I figure where it happened and why, I will change my views. If the facts change, I will change.

How, if he was the one in charge of the money could he not have been one of the first to see it start to turn sour?

Greenspan claims that it was, in fact, the world that destroyed the economy, not him.

The Fed reeks of bad government except they don't fall under actual governmental rules. The bratty adopted daughter of America.

So in one interview, you have Greenspan in October of 2008 saying he is SHOCKED that this could happen. Even Christopher Cox got in on the action and claimed that the SEC did not have its role accurately defined by legislation. Legislation? What the fuck do you need, Cox? You're the chairman of the SEC, your fucking job is to keep an eye on things for our sake and don't screw it all up. Did you not read the employee handbook?!

8 months earlier, he's telling the Washington Post that he saw it coming from a mile away, whether or not toxic mortgages would kick it off. He surely knew then that risky derivatives would eventually send the sinking ship down to her knees?

Don't miss out on naked Greenspan.

That's my Christmas present to you. Probably shouldn't open it.

How bad is the retail hangover going to be tomorrow? That's what I want to know.


The Santa Conspiracy

Thursday, December 25, 2008 1 Comments

You know I love a good conspiracy. Like David Icke's belief that the Global Elite are really... hold on, this is fabulous... shape-shifting lizards.

As everyone knows, my favorite conspiracy is that the Federal Reserve engineered the entire financial collapse. If that's what you want to call it.

But there is a deeper, more subversive conspiracy at work in America tonight as little boys and girls curl up in bed anxiously awaiting a whole crapload of items from some fat guy in the morning.


It is believed that the Santa conspiracy began some time in June of 2006 after rumors that Santa's summer home in Puerto Rico had actually been foreclosed on months before.

Each year, the Santa conspiracy is perpetrated by well-meaning Americans from New York to Los Angeles and back. Moms sneaking Baby Ruths out of the stocking (hey, work is killing me these days, ok?! I need to eat!), Dads slipping into Walgreens at 10p on Christmas Eve to grab gifts they put off until the last minute. And each and every one writes the same name on the gift tag.


WAKE UP, SHEEPLE! There IS no Santa! I'm Santa! So are you! We all are!

And that's why this might be the best conspiracy in the history of mankind. We conspire on one night of the year to put aside work, worry, anger, blah blah blah, and pretend to be this cheer-spreading fat guy who just gives you stuff for no reason other than it's the 25th of December.

We've gotten our priorities a little mixed up, obviously, but it's inspiring that we all sneak around after the kids have gone to bed, snag some stocking candy, and maybe a drink, and leave a bunch of items under a tree. For their sakes. Right?

The Santa Conspiracy will surely endure. Washington doesn't talk about it. No one will.

And let's keep it that way. Some conspiracies are actually good.

Don't miss it.


Christmas Eve Consumergasm: It's Better Than You Think

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 2 Comments

Alright, so I didn't participate in Black Friday (and in fact chose instead to support 'Buy Nothing Day') and waited until the two days before Christmas to do the bulk of my shopping. If I didn't have a 5 year old counting on the myth of Santa dropping crap down the chimney, I would have probably given up and not bought a single thing this year except as much canvas, paint, and brushes as it takes to make a painting for each special person in my life.

Then again, I also wasn't banking on a bonus this year (prepare for the worst and hope for the best, right?) so I didn't want to over extend myself or get my hopes up over a very Merry Consumergasm for the people I love.

Today I left the office early with three giant bags packed with crap; crap for my best friend, crap for my son, I even used a buy one get one 50% off sale at my favorite hoodie store as an excuse to get crap for myself.

And admittedly, I felt guilty for a moment. Here I am, a smart ass professional with my Merry Bags O'Bullshit, trotting my well-fed ass home in an $80 hoodie, endlessly tapping away on my $400 smartphone, sitting next to a homeless guy on the bus with only his stained jeans to his name.

I felt guilty for buying into the mentality (28 years in a row!) that somehow if you don't spend money, you don't actually care.

My 5 year old requested a Hot Wheels track and some weird Spiderman/Transformer/Pokemon metamorphasizing motorcycle from Santa but also asked if he could have my old 128mb mp3 player. The screen is cracked, it only holds 24 songs, and shuffle has been broken for two years. 'I want to be just like you, Mom,' he told me, 'and have The Aquabats on my iPod.'

The kid doesn't care that it's old and doesn't hold 80,000 songs. He doesn't even care that it's not an iPod. He just wants to have The Aquabats at his beck and call just like Mom does.

The kid gets it. And we could stand to learn a little from the little ones set to inherit this broken capitalist empire we'll leave them.

The deep discount sales, overflowing shelves, and empty stores suspiciously point to deflation as the next logical step in our economy's shuffle toward the death chamber; maybe everyone held out like I did, or maybe it's bottomed out so bad that stores are resorting to giving away inventory for free just to break even.

But tonight, it looked as though every person in my small just-south-of-San-Francisco town waited until the very last minute. Safeway was overflowing. Reports were varied across the Internet (oh yes, I'm paying attention) from the Twitterati:

IDWorkx: Just got back from Toys R Us, it was insane! It was packed like a night club. Checkout line went to the back of the store and curved!

stacybond: @Adrigonzo OMG - you should have seen Whole Foods! Not a bloodbath, just a sea of tight smiles, tangled carts and suppressed irritation.

recruiter_steve: omg - am at cvs to by cold medicine and it is packed w last minute shoppers. honey, i bought your gift from the drug store ....

Sims2: Home. Got my meds, no line! Went to the grocery store & mailed Maggie's gift & all my Christmas cards. Very busy there. Saw a woman fall

vchovil: 3 o'clock on Christmas Eve and already 3 trips to the grocery store. Judging by the crowds I'm not the only one.

I'm done shopping< & in no rush, just using up a few coupons...but this mall's packed! Parking is ridiculous. Who says no one's shopping?

And this one, my personal favorite from a Georgia real estate gangsta:

FlippenHouses: Two closings today! Sold one and bought one. Went Christmas shopping - WHAT recession? No parking places, horrific traffic. Merry Christmas!

But it was also quiet in other places:

babdragon: no one at all in the barnes and noble today, no lines, wtf i thought it was the busiest shopping day of the year...

ellenchisa: @angelarrr that depresses me. perhaps the economy here has completely tanked, as our grocery store is completely empty.

JayRyanAstro: @CathyNagle I was out yesterday to Target and the store was QUITE empty. I was in and out real quick. It's astounding

and a unique perspective from the retail sector itself (presumably):

frances1983: Thought xmas shopping was over but no, one last minute arrival. Of course every year. uggh

Blogger, meanwhile, is being frustrating and not letting me save links.

Who can call it at this point? It was a bad year. Christmas is almost over. 2009 is a complete unknown.

Call me crazy but I think America learned a lesson today that she won't soon forget; if you wait until the last minute in a desperate, starved economy, you will manipulate your toxic money for your own benefit. Is that a hint at deflation? Will American consumers realize their power and finally press retailers, regulators, and central bankers to release their death grip on our lives?

Well I'm not telling you what I asked Santa for. But awareness would be a great start.


Merry Meltdown!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 1 Comments

Think the central bankers have it easy because they engineered this whole disaster? Wrong!

Even Ben Bernanke may have to pick up some extra cash this holiday season (ignore the fact, of course, that Bernanke is Jewish, money is money and we all need some these days)!

There isn't much good news to spread this year and frankly, I'm a bit sad that the holiday will come and go in 24 short hours and we'll be back to picking up the pieces of a historical collapse along with crumpled wrapping paper and pine needles.

While mortgage-backed securities were of course but one of many toxic catalysts to this disaster, December's retail boom was our last hope at getting out of this one in one piece. Dismal sales, desperate retailers, full store shelves, and bailout blowout discounts all reflect the attitude of the American consumer and the resulting fear of those who've lived high on the hog thanks to that insatiable gluttony.

You know when Santa is in front of Congress pleading for bailout bucks, the system has experienced a fatal error.

Be well and be good to each other, kids. We need all the goodwill we can get these days.

With a little bit of extra love,


San Francisco Budget Fixes, One $90 Ticket at a Time

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 , , , 0 Comments

Oh sorry, homie, I must have left my POP in my other pants...

There's an upside for 'crime' prevention and maybe San Francisco's budget crunch might have some hope after all.

When I'm shmobbing through the urban jungle Monday - Friday, I look like I'm zoned out but I'm watching everyone (you would too if you lived here, we're a strange looking bunch) and have noticed Muni and the city aren't cutting back on transit cops ticketing San Franciscans trying to hitch a free ride on our broke down underground system.

In fact, if you look at it from a planning standpoint, it's a jackpot - if you can get people to pay.

Freeloaders aren't just homeless or broke; I was the annoying 20 year old riding Muni from the back for free to and from work every day. The people who need to cheat the system the least have been bleeding it dry for years. I've been here since 1999 and everyone did it then as well. How do you think I learned the trick?

The service on this N Judah SUCKS!

Of course now I'm responsible so I have my transit money taken out of my account automatically.

If this little plan works, San Francisco could stand to gain a pretty fat payoff. With weekly street cleaning cut down to twice a month in most SF neighborhoods months ago, they've surely been losing revenue from those damn street cleaning tickets they aren't giving.

Construction, which once overtook the city even after the dot com bubble popped and 9/11, has pretty much come to a complete stop. Thank God, maybe now San Francisco can sleep and find a decent place for under a kidney.75/mo.

It's a plus because we've kind of been running wild over here for years. If millions can afford to live in the 2nd most expensive city in the country, you bet your sweet ass they've been blowing cash.

I work next to one of SF's priciest restaurants and they certainly aren't struggling. In fact, I've seen more shiny luxury cars in the work hood in the last month than I'd seen all Spring (when the wealthy are in heat and go to Gary Danko).

They are not afraid to spend.

Now do I get all lathered up about the wealthy spending, making me think they know something we don't? No. It's stupid to assume just because someone has a lot of something they are an expert in dealing with that thing. That ridiculous mom with 18 kids who are all well-behaved and perfect is a perfect example of an exemption.

The foreign tourists are back in town again despite temperatures in the 30s and 40s so maybe things are getting better.

If watching the market has taught me anything, it's that expert 'projections' are great and all but you're your own best source of information. Don't you work and pay with money? Well there you go. How does it look from your perspective?

So far it appears as though San Francisco continues to chug on despite depressing figures; which doesn't help our cost of living yet but maybe soon we'll get a break.

In the meantime, $45,000 a year is considered low income and Muni cops are chasing bad commuters to clean up on our chronic system-cheating habits.

More power to 'em, I say, but that's only because I pay my fare these days.


Did Bernanke Get a Makeover?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 0 Comments

Maybe I'm trivializing the whole meltdown by pointing this out but surely I can't be the only one who has noticed Bernanke looking a bit pissed off but much more sleek than he was in his pre-crisis days.

And look! I have photographic evidence! Bernanke, obviously, has pulled a Linda Tripp, at least to some level. But if you go from the 2nd most powerful but least known man in the world to a celebrity (even if based on your boneheaded moves), I guess you gotta get pretty for the camera.

Case in point. Look at this scrub:

btw this file is saved as bernanke_ugly.jpg if you ever need to find it on my computer

Here's Ben looking, frankly, a little scrubby. His tie isn't even straight. Then again, this is your Sagittarius central banker, he is in ur economiez fuxing with ur ratez. Obviously, this is before the proverbial shit hit the fan. I'm sure Bush read up on Sagittarius and finance before he hired Bernanke, of course, as this is a projection any money-hungry boss would die for in an employee, especially one whose duties include running the printing press.

This photo is presumably from 2001 or some time thereafter. He looks alright but when you're standing next to GW, anybody can look hot.

And here you have Bernanke on the cover of former Lehman chief economist Ethan Harris' book "Ben Bernanke's Fed". I don't know about this one.

He looks an awful lot like Tim McManus from HBO's "Oz".

Coincidentally, Terry Kinney's character ALSO ran a prison of sorts. Except McManus got more tail.

So now you have the new and improved Bernanke. Like I said, he's haggard, obviously, I mean who wouldn't be? But there's something sharp about him; our favorite central banker can't save the economy but DAMNIT he's going to look hot while failing.

OMG who does your eyebrows? They are fabulous!

Rock on, Ben. Love the new white beard. It's so festive of you.


The True Financial Fallout

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 2 Comments

As if Bernie Madoff's scheme weren't sad enough for his stunned investors and for the rest of the world waiting for a silver lining in the economic storm clouds, news comes today that a funds manager with at least a $2.1 billion stake in Madoff's scam was found dead in a New York office building. 65 year old Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, co-founder of Access International Advisors, LLC,was found slumped over his desk with both wrists slashed and pronounced dead at 8 a.m. this morning.

While this may be the most broadcasted example of tangible (in a sense completely unrelated to money, or rather, so tied up in it that when one falls, so obviously does the other) financial fallout to date, the trend is nothing new.

As early as June of 2008, The Nation reported on the suicide of Massachusetts resident Carlene Balderrama, 53, who'd shot herself to death with her husband's rifle just hours before her mortgage company was set to auction her foreclosed home. Apparently, an adjustable rate mortgage literally can do you in. Granted, Balderrama, who handled her family's finances, decided not to inform her husband that she hadn't paid the mortgage in 42 months.

In October, 90-year-old Addie Polk attempted to escape the endless economic crunch and was found shot in the shoulder when police arrived to serve an eviction notice. Polk survived. No news on whether her mortgage ever got paid or not.

That same month, Los Angeles-based Karthik Rajaram was found dead in his home, along with the bodies of his three sons, his wife, and his mother-in-law. Rajaram, a millionaire at the peak of his financial fortune, left a note blaming his unfortunate actions directly on financial hardship.

Oh but it gets worse. A San Antonio news station reported an increase in incidents of women seeking shelter from domestic abuse, blaming the growth on the pressure cooker of financial trouble. Of course, Michael Panzner already called that one in the first draft of Financial Armageddon.

A non-profit organization in New York reported about 800 women (as opposed to 2007's around 700) tapping them for legal services in the wake of domestic violence. While blaming this increase on the financial crisis is conditional, at best, on factors like accurate reporting, the numbers point to a pretty clear problem that can only get worse as the crisis chugs on.

The National Abuse Hotline, based in Texas, saw a 21% increase in calls for September of 2008 compared to that same month in 2007. Sadly, as budget cuts slice deftly across all sectors, the organization has had to handle the additional volume after a 25% cut in funding and with 11 less staffers than the year previous.

The dollar may be worthless but it's starting to have a serious cost on humanity, its tendrils wrapping around anyone and everyone.

Told you it was ugly.


Meanwhile I'm watching it from the safety of my perch, I can afford to hit up Amazon for a book or two on the subject so I can devour it, so I'm doing OK. It hasn't hit us yet, and I'm grateful for that, but the echoes ripple across all of us. We're all inter-connected; the banks, the money, the thieves, the businesses, the ripped-off clients; we all know someone or are someone or dealt with someone along the way.

It's touched every single one of us.

I'm going to stop now before I get all fear-mongering. That's certainly not my objective.


Sorry Kids, Santa Got Laid Off this Year

The central bankers don't have much to celebrate this year - but they did that to themselves so don't expect me to shed a tear for Bernanke, Geithner, Plosser and crew. Love ya, Ben, but you're on your own with this one.

As expected, it's worked out to be a depressing Christmas shopping season - at a time when Americans are usually climbing all over each other to snag Tickle Me Elmos and Wii consoles, instead Americans are - gasp! - talking about the importance of spending time with family and remembering the religious undertones of a holiday corrupted by consumerism and our own "buy now, pay later" mentality (we're paying through the nose for this one, I only hope we learn our lesson).

I am genuinely saddened for the retail sector, as December is the time to make up for sluggish sales and we all know what January is going to look like at this rate. But it's about damn time America stops shoveling crap down her throat in a futile attempt to satisfy her urge to blow as much money as possible. That backwards belief system is what got us here in the first place.

Not surprisingly, home sales are still down while unemployment is still up.

What's the good news?

Someone's going to have to feed and clothe and shelter all those Obamagasm babies we're expecting in August. My money's on diaper and formula producers.

So for this holiday season, drop a few spare bucks in a Salvation Army bucket, give your time to a lonely senior, tell someone you love them - you can't be *that* broke. If you're reading my blog it means you can still afford Internet service or are mooching off of your employer's connection so it can't be *that* bad.



Holy Fucking Shit, My Mom is Going to Retire and I'm Broke!

I was inspired, suddenly, after a long day of CPA Review (woo!), a depressing corporate blog post, endless Monday e-mails, and preparing for a pretty serious presentation scheduled for tomorrow to write some cheesy "Meet the Fed" post with the faces of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors (including my beloved Bernanke xoxoxo) so you know who to look for when it comes time to seek out the perpetrators of the greatest crime in American history.

But enough of that, right? I abandoned that post after a talk with my Mom tonight. If you know me, first and foremost you know I don't like to pick up the phone (text, e-mail, Twitter, I am SO there!) much like everyone else ages 18 - 30 or whatever the Gen Y cut-off is nowadays. But for some reason I picked up the phone - maybe I didn't want to research tomorrow's presentation because I am A) afraid of failure and B) scared of what I might uncover - and ended up talking to my Mom.

She's read my blog (sup, Mom!) and I'm glad I finally have an Internet presence acceptable enough for my mother to read.

She's a little disturbed by my outlook I think, and understandably concerned by my newly-found conservatism. As am I, so that's no shock.

My mom, one of five children of a middle class Wisconsin family (my grandfather worked in a factory all his life as did most breadwinners in Milwaukee until they started shutting down operations and cutting off pensions), graduated high school (the same one I graduated from in 1998) in 1974. My name actually comes from a woman she met hitchhiking in the years after graduation between my grandparents' home and, well, me. She met a woman in Alaska named Adrienne and swore if she ever had a daughter, that's what she would name her.

Anyway, I'll save my mom's hitchhiking war stories; I've heard them all my life, some are hilarious, some are just disturbing, and I'm telling you this mostly so you realize the generation my mother comes from. Ask my mom about the birthday cake and cheese story if you ever meet her. It's a classic.

She had me at 24. And I, of course, am a Reagan baby.

My mom has struggled as a Registered Nurse for nearly all my life. She chose to be a single parent over making a whole shitload of bucks (which, at this point, are worthless anyway so maybe she made the right decision?) and has been paying for that choice ever since. No wonder I was raised a democrat; we were the ones legitimately tapping the system for help even though my Mom had a degree and a decent job.

My Mom turned 52 last October (sorry, Mom, your age is part of the story) and has been shuffling between jobs since she came out to San Francisco to be nearer to her only daughter and only grandson (we're kind of awesome that way, my son and I) in 2005 (?). You may already know this but life in San Francisco (Ghirardelli, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, et-effing-cetera) comes at a huge price. My Office Manager pays over $1000 for a studio in a not-so-fabulous neighborhood.

Point being, my Mom is sort of facing that delicate "retirement" age; problem being, she hasn't quite gotten to that "saving for" part of the equation. Apparently, 52 comes at you like a Mack truck; one day you're a CPA Review rockstar, shuffling through iTunes and pulling a decent salary and railing on the Federal Reserve in your free time and next thing you know, you're getting up there in years and actually having to consider who is going to have your safety net ready for you when you're too old to hold it yourself. I know my Mom sees my grandparents (now nearly 80) getting up there, and I'm nearly 30 myself so it has to be a sobering reminder of the pending need for a "plan."

"Mom," I told her, balancing the phone between my chin and shoulder so I could still type in search terms for my economic investigation, "Social Security is the biggest pyramid scheme ever. You're screwed. We're all screwed. And I am meanwhile paying $100 a paycheck for something I'll never see a ROI on, and you've paid for the last 32 years only to have it sucked dry."

And who is going to take care of my Mom? Certainly not me. I barely make enough to get by and by country-wide standards I've got it pretty good. I'd be neck-deep in crap I don't need if I lived anywhere else but SF; big screen TV, XBox 360, you know, all the crap that makes you feel better about living because you surround yourself with it.

Social Security will not be there to catch my Mom. And it certainly will not be there to catch me.

At the rate we are going, it may not even carry my grandparents through the end of their time. And as I told my Mom tonight (received with a hearty chuckle), "When they built the system, they didn't count on my generation being so f^#$ing lazy."

This is not about the concept of economics or researching the bottoming out of the dollar. I realized tonight that this about the future of people who I hold close to me.

It's beyond Bernanke and beyond Panzner and beyond Greenspan; there are actual people suffering as the dollar suffocates due to the collapse of America's historically hedonistic lifestyle. Like my mother.

And what about my 5 year old who gets to inherit this whole mess?

I grieve for our children. We gave them a ruined planet, an angry attitude, and a crippled money system.

As my Mom told me tonight, I'm only 28, I have a lifetime of working ahead of me, and I have ideas to contribute to the new movements seeking to revolutionize our country and restore her to her former glory; I'm ready for that war, if for no other reason than so that my child can inherit a world exponentially better than the one I did.


How to Not get Fired in a Recession: Duh!

It's ridiculous that I should even have to write this but being stuck in my office on a Sunday catching up on work that had been neglected for weeks inspired me to address this all-important issue. After all, if you read my blog you know that I love pointing out where we're going and how we got there but I fall pretty flat when it comes to offering reasonable solutions to the problems.

Well this one is pretty damn obvious. I have a feeling my fellow Gen Y-ers are still obliviously playing computer games and downloading pilfered mp3s as an alternative to facing our financial music and it's time to shut down that silliness and grow the hell up already.

So, hopefully you realize this but just in case you're still completely clueless, here are 5 ways not to get fired in the midst of total financial meltdown.

Stop being so f%^ing LAZY! I hate to break it to you, kid, but despite what your parents told you, the world does not revolve around you. In fact, the world is a complicated and frightening place and you are but an insignificant component in the grand scheme. So get off your damn ass and contribute already! Gen Y is full of bright, talented people who are wasting their talents leaving Myspace comments on their friends' pages and are not fully utilizing the unique perspective our parents' backwards beliefs inspired in us. No one owes you anything. In fact, you owe the world. And I, as a borderline Gen Y-er, am offended that your legacy of laziness is somehow a reflection of my own just because we share a birth year. GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND GO DO SOMETHING!

Protect the bottom line at all costs. As the financial fabric unravels, folks who respect the boss's bottom line will immediately rise to the top. So stop wasting his money on crap the company doesn't need. This doesn't just mean locking down purchases on the company card (any good company will have a team of bulldogs monitoring this in the first place). This means watching out for waste, excessive spending, and wasting the hours he pays you for surfing the Internet. When the hammer comes down, those who spent the boss's time surfing for deals on shoes and catching up with high school cronies on Facebook will be the first to be sliced. Our temptation to blow the boss's capital after years of living high on the hog will certainly be your death as an employee and trust me, you don't want to have to look for a job in this economy.

Don't just do what you're told, do MORE! So many people, groomed on managers with their laundry lists of expectations, simply grit their teeth and suffer through the daily tasks of their position with reluctant enthusiasm. But in this economy, it is vital to your survival that you not only do what you're asked but go above and beyond. Look for ways to save a few bucks. Do something that no one asked you to do. Trust me on this one; a year ago, my company didn't even HAVE an Online Marketing department; a year later, we are one of the most critical components of the day-to-day business model and have become so because of my knowledge that Online Marketing would not only set us apart from our disconnected competitor but serve as a cheap and easy way to stay connected to our students, both current and potential. That department was forged out of little more than a few staff members insisting that in order to grow, we needed an Online presence that stretched far beyond our landing page. And so far, it's not only stuck, it's become a necessary catalyst to our company's continued success.

Offer the boss ideas that may actually be useful to him (or her). I don't know about you but my entire future rests on my company making it through this whole financial meltdown thing. And if *I* am to survive, that means my CEO (who, duh, signs my paycheck) has to survive. As I've dug deeper into the financial crisis, I've discovered tips and suggestions for big business to make it through. I'm no expert and do not want to discount the fact that my CEO, as a CPA, probably already knows a lot of what I've just learned, but also want to add my spin just in case it can help us weather the storm. Because, uh, you may not get this but if your company doesn't make it through, neither do you. Again, STOP BEING SELFISH.

Take pride in what you do, and let that reflect in how you do things. Listen, if I didn't believe in my company, I wouldn't be answering e-mails at 11pm or working on a Sunday, regardless of how much the guy paid me to do so. Do you actually believe in what you do? Do you believe in your business model? In your product? In your CEO? Well you better f&#*ing start; and if you don't, fine, you are more than welcome to apply at Starbucks for $9 an hour. The way I look at it, my CEO entrusts me with his earnings, both current and future, and if I want to play around with money like that, maybe I don't deserve to be in the position I am in. Which is why I take every moment seriously; every single stupid e-mail and every single vendor relationship leads to the bigger picture of our company and our success. No matter how much I'd rather be playing on Facebook or e-mailing my friends about my weekend plans.

Listen, you have a little room to play. Just make sure at the end of the day that you've fulfilled your obligation and then some. Because when the ax starts slicing at the toxic pieces of your company's tumor, you'll be first to get hit if you've been playing first and working later.

This is your life and your future. And certainly nothing to ignore or take lightly.

Some other things to take into consideration: the more specialized your position, the harder it will be to hang onto it. You will be forced to wear as many hats as possible; as layoffs become more commonplace than corporate meetings, employee handbooks, and rules against sexual harrassment, only those who try to balance as many tasks as possible will make it through. Have you been putting off a certification? Now is the time to go for it. Make yourself indispensible; the time for us to leverage our talents against our employer in a boom market are over. Now you will have to prove why the hell he (or she) should keep you on payroll.

Have some other suggestions for weathering the storm? Let me know!

*I want the record to reflect that this is more directed at myself than anyone else. These are things *I* have to keep in mind as well. That's the lame part about lying smack dab in the middle of jaded Gen X and self-centered Gen Y. As most of what I write, I just do it for my own good. So don't take it personally.