This will solve your problem.
Personally, I'm waiting for the model that ejects a man out of his own bed and into an attractive room-mate's . . .
The idle musings of a former military man, former computer geek, medically retired pastor and now full-time writer. Contents guaranteed to offend the politically correct and anal-retentive from time to time. My approach to life is that it should be taken with a large helping of laughter, and sufficient firepower to keep it tamed!
I saw an asterisk with the following message:
The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits.
I could not believe I was seeing the equivalent of what I was just thinking, but with a new twist, “If I like my Social Security, I can keep 77 percent of it.”
With an asterisk, my beloved government was informing me that they will be unable to fulfill their part of a financial arrangement into which, as their statement attested, I had been making mandatory contributions starting in 1971 at age 16.
This impending “benefit rationing,” reducing my future financial “security” by $492 a month, may, in fact, not be the worst of it.
Sitting in the back of my Social Security file was an earlier statement dated March 10, 2009. Again, followed by an asterisk was a sentence that read exactly like my 2015 statement except for two major differences (emphasis added):
The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2041, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 78 percent of your scheduled benefits.
Clearly, in 2009, the government’s prediction — that Social Security would have to be cut to 78 percent of benefits come 2041 — was overly optimistic.
Now, in 2015, they are projecting 2033, eight years earlier, with one percentage point less of my projected benefits. The projections have steadily worsened over the past few years, helped by a much weaker economy than the federal government expected. Does anyone really expect these numbers to get better?
. . .
Meanwhile, here is the truth, as stated by the Social Security Administration in its annual Trustees Report from 2014:
Social Security is not sustainable over the long term at current benefit and tax rates. In 2010, the program paid more in benefits and expenses than it collected in taxes and other noninterest income, and the 2014 Trustees Report projects this pattern to continue for the next 75 years.
. . .
The population of retirees is projected to double in about 50 years. People are also living longer, and the birth rate is low.
. . .
Trustees project that the ratio of 2.8 workers paying Social Security taxes to each person collecting benefits in 2013 will fall to 2.1 to 1 in 2032.
. . .
So, barring some positive developments, in 18 years — or less — Washington, D.C., will be filled with aging protesters, many using walkers, wheelchairs, or scooters. They will carry signs reading, “Give me my full benefits” and “It’s my money.” Old men wearing Vietnam veteran caps will be demanding, “100 percent and no less.” By that time, it will be too late.
Why is China finding it so hard to save its stockmarket?
The short answer is that, for all the government's involvement, China's stockmarket is still a market, and there are now more sellers than buyers ... Had China's stockmarket been allowed to crash, shares would have eventually found a floor. Instead, regulators have tried to erect a floor, and investors are not sure whether it really is the low point or just another artificial bottom susceptible to collapse.
The intervention has also created new problems. By wading in so heavily, the fate of stocks now sits in the hands of officials.
. . .
Even if the government does manage to withdraw its support without causing share prices to crash, the long-term damage to China's stockmarket will be severe. At the height of the sell-off, just over half of companies suspended their shares from trading, hoping to avoid the rout. Although most have now returned to the market, the message to investors is clear: if you put your money into risky stocks, you might find them frozen at a time of crisis, just when you need to cash out. What's more, regulators have halted initial public offerings, trying to limit the supply of shares and push up the prices of those already listed on the market. Past experience suggests it could be months before they lift the ban and let companies issue new shares. Add it all up, and China is left with a stockmarket in which investors take their cues from the government. Rather than bothering to assess the value of companies, they are betting on what regulators will do next.
You borrow $1,000,000 @ 5% interest on a one-year bond. You must pay, at the end of one year, $1,050,000.
But you don't pay it off, you just pay the $50,000 interest. In the meantime, over the next year, the interest rate goes down to 2.5%.
When you roll over the debt you find that your interest on the new bond is now $25,000. Or, you can borrow another million and pay the same $50,000!
Guess what you do?
You borrow another million, of course.
Then another year passes. The rate is now 1.25%. You can now borrow $4 million for the same $50,000 in interest and not pay any of it off. Remember, you started with one million but now, you have $4 million to spend! Huzzah!
There's a wee problem with this -- zero is a lower boundary, and a hard limit. Therefore, your continued borrowing of more and more money, which allows you to appear to be doing quite well when in fact you are not, must end. Even if rates don't go up and simply stay pinned near zero, you can't access any more borrowed money because doing so requires that lower and lower rates come every time you renew the bond, and mathematically that must (and now has) come to a stop.
This is why the so-called "economic prosperity" (which was fake, by the way) over the last 30 years happened. It is particularly where the so-called "recovery" since 2008 happened, all of which was driven by an explosion of non-economic borrowing made possibly by continual rate reductions.
This has now ended and it's why "growth" has disappeared.
But -- if rates rise to, say, that former 5%, you suddenly don't owe $50,000 in interest any more.
You now owe $200,000 each and every year on a permanent basis, or one fifth of the original million you borrowed!
Worse, there is only one way to make that number smaller: You must pay back some or all of the $4 million you have out -- but you spent it!
This is the trap that The Fed, the Government and corporations now find themselves in -- a trap of their own design.
The study was commissioned by the National Gun Victims Action Council, an advocacy group devoted to enacting "sensible gun laws" that "find common ground between legal gun owners and non-gun owners that minimizes gun violence in our culture." The study found that proper training and education are key to successfully using a firearm in self-defense: "carrying a gun in public does not provide self-defense unless the carrier is properly trained and maintains their skill level," the authors wrote in a statement.
They recruited 77 volunteers with varying levels of firearm experience and training, and had each of them participate in simulations of three different scenarios using the firearms training simulator at the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland. The first scenario involved a carjacking, the second an armed robbery in a convenience store, and the third a case of suspected larceny.
They found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, people without firearms training performed poorly in the scenarios. They didn't take cover. They didn't attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy -- they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people, or not itchy enough -- they didn't shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at.
In just five years, the State of Illinois dedicated more than $2.4 million to the 4800 block of West Adams Street in Austin.
But don't look for new developments or freshly paved roads on that stretch of street, because that's not where the money went. No, $2.4 million is the amount of money the state spent on incarcerating people for drug offenses from that block alone.
. . .
The 4800 block of West Adams and 4,636 other blocks in the city were the focus of Chicago's Million Dollar Blocks, a new data project published Monday. A collaboration between social justice advocates and tech company DataMade, the site features an interactive block-by-block breakdown of how much money the city spent on jailing criminals from 2005 to 2009.
. . .
"All we hear about is how the state is in billions of dollars in debt, and meanwhile we have more than a billion dollars every year pumped into a corrections system that's had a track record of failure," said Cooper, the co-director of Adler University's Institute on Social Exclusion. "We're always hearing about money being spent on development, and here you have this shadow budget pumping tons of money into taking people out of neighborhoods, instead of bringing them in."
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ...
The violence of the moves unnerved investors worldwide, stirring fears that the Communist Party may be losing control after stoking a series of epic bubbles in property, corporate investment and equities to keep up the blistering pace of economic growth.
. . .
Mark Williams, chief Asia strategist at Capital Economics, said the Chinese authorities appear to have been testing the waters to see what would happen if they stopped intervening. The market verdict was swift and brutal.
“They have got themselves into a very difficult situation. They have put a lot of credibility on the line to shore up prices and this credibility has been badly damaged,” he said.
. . .
The Chinese media reported on Monday night that the state regulator is ready to intervene with yet more stock purchases. It has already bought an estimated $250bn of equities and has borrowing lines for a further $450bn if necessary.
Western banks say they are coming under heavy pressure from Chinese officials to refrain from negative comments. They are effectively gagged if they wish to do business in China.
“Large parts of the market are closed, and those stocks that are still trading are selling off regardless of support measures. Clearly something very serious is happening,” said one economist.
The long-standing assumption that the Chinese authorities know what they are doing has been shattered.
The government’s heavy-handed measures include a ban on short sales and on new share issues, as well as pressure on the 300 largest companies to buy back their own stock, and forced purchases of stocks by brokerage houses.
Many investors are effectively trapped with margin debt used to buy the stocks. These liabilities cannot be covered without selling the stocks. The longer the market remains partially frozen, the more likely it will lead to extreme stress.
David Cui, from Bank of America, said $1.2 trillion of stock holdings are being carried on margin debt. This is 34pc of the free float of the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets. “When the market ultimately settles at a level that can be sustained on fundamental reasons, we expect that the financial system may wobble, due to high contagion risk,” he said.
“Most leveraged positions may suffer from losses ultimately, likely in trillions (of yuan). The risk is that the unwinding of the leverage will be disorderly: due to implicit guarantees behind most shadow banking products, investors could easily panic,” he said.
Mr Cui said the brokers and trusts have barely 1.6 trillion yuan ($260bn) to absorb losses and may be overrun. “Given the particularly thin front line of the financial institutions, we suspect that it’s a matter of time before banks may have to face the music,” he said.
This in turn risks setting off a “bank run” on the shadow banking system as investors lose trust in wealth management funds, fearing that their deposits in the $2.1 trillion industry no longer have an implicit guarantee.
Brazil, Russia, South Africa and a string of commodity states face a double-barrelled stress test. The Chinese are freezing imports just as the US Federal Reserve drains worldwide dollar liquidity and prepares to raise rates, calling time on emerging markets that have together borrowed $4.5 trillion in US currency.
The Brazilian real fell to a 12-year low of 3.38 against the dollar on Monday. The South Africa rand hit a record low of 12.69. The Russian rouble flirted with the danger line of 60. It was the same story across much of the emerging market nexus.
“One by one the dominoes are starting to fall,” said Societe Generale.
It’s days like Monday that reassure Tony Hann he was right to avoid stocks in mainland China.
The severity of an 8.5 percent drop in the Shanghai Composite Index is bad enough, but what irks him the most is not knowing why it tumbled so much. In a market where unprecedented intervention has made government money one of the biggest drivers of share prices, authorities aren’t transparent enough for investors to make informed decisions, said Hann, the head of emerging markets at Blackfriars Asset Management Ltd.
Monday’s plunge was all the more surprising because it followed a government rescue package that had helped drive a 16 percent rally since July 8. That support appeared to vanish without warning, leaving analysts guessing whether authorities shifted their policy stance or just got overwhelmed by a flood of sell orders. After the close of trading, the securities regulator denied speculation that the government has exited the stock market.
Investors “are concerned and lost,” said Alex Wong, a Hong Kong-based asset-management director at Ample Capital Ltd., which oversees about $155 million. “China’s market is distorted, so you can’t sell short very confidently and you can’t buy up very confidently either.”
. . .
The International Monetary Fund has urged China to eventually unwind its support measures, saying share prices should be allowed to settle through market forces, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
“The markets in China now are not really markets,” Donald Straszheim, head of China research at New York-based Evercore ISI, said on Bloomberg Television last week. “They are government operations.”
As Northrop, Lockheed and Boeing battle for the prime contractor position, Raytheon is flying under the radar, so to speak, by offering its new “Skynet” radar to all sides. The company is in a non-exclusive partnership with Lockheed, but says it will offer its radar – believed to be a 16ft derivative of the Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) carried on the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft – to whichever company wants it.
According to Raytheon: “Skynet incorporates the latest innovations developed for the US Navy’s stringent, wide-area surveillance requirements [and] meets or exceeds all JSTARS requirements for the lowest possible cost.”
The Black Hawk helicopter exploded shortly after landing on 22 June in the Norte de Santander department about 264 miles northeast of the capital Bogota.
The military said an explosive was manually set off and the Colombian government said four soldiers were killed and six others were injured in the attack.
. . .
... guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN) took responsibility for the attack on Saturday in a message posted on its Twitter account stating that eight soldiers had been killed.
“First off,” Scott Walker proclaimed, “we took on the unions, and we won. We won!”
Taking on the unions is usually first off for Walker, the Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate. It is the very rationale for his candidacy.
. . .
This is the essence of Walker’s appeal — and why he is so dangerous. He is not as outrageous as Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), but his technique of scapegoating unions for the nation’s ills is no less demagogic. Sixty-five years ago, another man from Wisconsin made himself a national reputation by frightening the country about the menace of communists, though the actual danger they represented was negligible. Scott Walker is not Joe McCarthy, but his technique is similar: He suggests that the nation’s ills can be cured by fighting labor unions (foremost among the “big government special interests” hurting the United States), even though unions represent just 11 percent of the U.S. workforce and have been at a low ebb.
New Jersey has drawn national attention as a case study, but the same scenario is playing out in state capitals from coast to coast. New York, Michigan, California, Washington, and many other states also find themselves heavily indebted, with public-sector unions at the root of their problems. In exchange, taxpayers in these states are rewarded with larger and more expensive, yet less effective, government, and with elected officials who are afraid to cross the politically powerful unions. As the Wall Street Journal put it recently, public-sector unions "may be the single biggest problem...for the U.S. economy and small-d democratic governance." They may also be the biggest challenge facing state and local officials — a challenge that, unless economic conditions dramatically improve, will dominate the politics of the decade to come.
... as much as it hurts to admit this, labor unions just aren’t very popular. In Gallup’s annual poll on confidence in institutions, unions score close to the bottom of the list, barely above big business and HMOs but behind banks. More Americans—42%—would like to see unions have less influence, and just 25% would like to see them have more. Despite a massive financial crisis and a dismal job market, approval of unions is close to an all-time low in the 75 years Gallup has been asking the question. A major reason for this is that twice as many people (68%) think that unions help mostly their members as think they help the broader population (34%). Amazingly, in Wisconsin, while only about 30% of union members voted for Walker, nearly half of those living in union households but not themselves union members voted for him (Union voters ≠ union households). In other words, apparently union members aren’t even able to convince their spouses that the things are worth all that much.
A major reason for the perception that unions mostly help insiders is that it’s true. Though unions sometimes help out in living wage campaigns, they’re too interested in their own wages and benefits and not the needs of the broader working class. Public sector workers rarely make common cause with the consumers of public services, be they schools, health care, or transit.
""Once the Greek creditors began to question the solvency of Greece they demanded higher interest rates. The minute our creditors figure out we are in the same position as Greece or Puerto Rico, they're going to demand higher interest rate from us and we can't pay either."
"The mainstream—the investors, the government, central banks—they never see a crisis until after the fact. And then they go back and they say, 'Well nobody could have possibly predicted this. This was a complete random occurrence that had nothing to do with our policy. They never understood the cause of the bubble that burst in '08. They didn't understand the Fed's role in creating it, so they don't understand that the Fed is simply exacerbating all the problems that everybody believes they solved."
Israel has transferred 16 Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters to Jordan to assist its air force in the fight against Islamic State militants, US sources have confirmed.
The rotorcraft involved had been phased out of use by the Israeli air force several years ago, and were refurbished prior to being flown to Jordan, the sources add.
. . .
Foreign sources have claimed that Israel and Jordan have been cooperating in the fight against Islamic State, in most cases through joint intelligence activities. This is the first time that there has been a transfer of weapon systems between the nations, the sources add.
Israeli, Jordanian and US officials decline to comment on the move, which could only have been made with Washington's approval.
Children burning their books on the last day of school found themselves in hot water after the blaze reached power lines and knocked out electricity to almost 140,000 homes.
Police believe the blaze that caused buildings across east London and Essex to be without power was started by students taking part in a celebratory burning ritual.
Flames rising from blazing planners and exercise books, which were set alight in a park in Upminster, east London, torched power cables in a bridge above.
. . .
Police are investigating the cause as an arson by schoolchildren in the ritual gone wrong, sources confirmed.
A source said: "They're not yet sure whether the damage was deliberate or accidental, but officers believe they may have identified them now.
"You can imagine they are quite nervous after that little celebration."
Saudi Arabia came out an publically agreed with Israel about what was wrong with the Iran treaty. The Israelis, Saudis and other Gulf Arabs agree that Iran is more likely to behave like North Korea or Saddam ruled Iraq rather than comply with the treaty and pull back on getting nukes. Inside Iran the new treaty is seen as a great victory and on the streets (and on the Internet) the average Iranian sees this as their well-deserved opportunity to get their nukes. Senior American military leaders are also not happy with the new treaty, some of them going so far to point out that Iran backed Islamic terrorists killed over 500 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Israelis and Saudis can also point to citizens killed by Iranian terrorism. Gulf Arabs in particular are reminded regularly that Iranian propaganda still praises and encourages that sort of thing. Israel reminds everyone that Iran still holds national holidays where millions of Iranians are urged (sometimes coerced) to gather and chant their hatred for the United States and Israel and call for the destruction of these two enemy states. Many Gulf Arabs still call for the destruction of Israel, but their leaders now openly speak of Israel as a valued ally in the struggle against Iranian aggression.
While Arabs cannot speak out in support of Israel (or even cooperation with Israel against common enemies), such cooperation continues and since the 1980s has grown. Saudi Arabia has always been the major supporter of greater, and open, cooperation with Israel. It’s an open secret that this relationship exists, has existed for decades and continues to be useful for both Arabs and Israelis. This is especially true when it comes to common enemies like Islamic terrorists (especially ISIL) and Iran. Israel wants the Arab states to go public about these relationships but because of decades of anti-Israel propaganda most Arabs would violently protest against any Arab government that admitted the truth of the Arab-Israel relationship. Yet there is progress, however slow, towards openness about the Arab-Israeli cooperation.
Top executives from 21 securities firms spent the morning of Saturday July 4 pinned to government office chairs while the future of China's stock markets hung in the balance.
They'd been summoned on a day off to the Beijing office of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) for talks aimed at pulling the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges out of a three-week tailspin.
. . .
A person who attended the meeting but asked not to be named said the securities firms' executives were told what to do – and that there would be no room for negotiating with regulators.
After the sit-down, the firms announced in a joint statement that to stabilize the stock market they would spend at least 120 billion yuan combined to buy exchange-traded funds linked to blue-chip stocks listed on the Shenzhen and Shanghai bourses. Moreover, the firms pledged to hold all stock that had been bought with their own money until the index reached at least 4,500 points.
The CSRC ordered the firms to hand over that 120 billion yuan to the China Securities Finance Corp. (CSF), a four-year-old agency co-founded by the country's major securities and commodity exchanges and clearinghouse to finance brokerage firms' margin trading and short-selling business, the person said. They were told the money would be used for stock purchases.
. . .
Then on July 8, as part of the CSRC strategy, the CSF said it would set aside 260 billion yuan to finance stock purchases by the 21 securities firms.
The Chinese government's stock market rescue campaign was under way, but far from over.
. . .
Money used by the CSF to buy shares included the 120 billion yuan handed over by 21 securities firms on July 6, those sources said. The agency also borrowed from the central bank and commercial banks. In a statement released on July 8, the central bank promised to support the CSF with adequate liquidity.
More intervention ensued. The Ministry of Finance promised not to sell any holdings in listed firms, and SASAC ordered SOEs to hold on to all their stock. Then the insurance regulator loosened rules governing investing by insurance firm by raising the percentage of premiums they can use to buy stock.
The CSRC even bent the Securities Law and its own rules by encouraging a company's major shareholders, directors and senior executives to buy the firm's shares under circumstances where the regulations say they should be punished. It also imposed a six-month ban on stock sales by them.
Meanwhile, 1,442 companies had exercised their right to suspend trading of their own stock on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges as of July 9. Many of these companies, which are among the 2,781 listed on the bourses, had seen their share prices fall sharply in the previous weeks.
. . .
Regulators also clamped down on futures trading and started looking for illegal short-sellers. The CSRC and police announced a hunt for what they called "malicious" short-sellers. But as of mid-July, none had been identified.
. . .
Critics of the CFFE clampdown said the agency actually put more pressure on the stock market because some investors deprived of access to index futures during the Shanghai slump decided to simply dump their holdings.
"I wanted to short (index futures), but the tools were not working," said a securities firm trader who did not want to be named. "I had to sell all of the stock."
The trader said he was not alone. "Everyone was paranoid and rushing to protect themselves," he said.
. . .
Added an investment banker who did not want his name printed: "Market reform will never be successful if the government resorts to intervention at every a crucial moment."
China has created what amounts to a state-run margin trader with $483 billion of firepower, its latest effort to end a stock-market rout that threatens to drag down economic growth and erode confidence in President Xi Jinping’s government.
China Securities Finance Corp. can access as much as 3 trillion yuan of borrowed funds from sources including the central bank and commercial lenders, according to people familiar with the matter. The money may be used to buy shares and provide liquidity to brokerages, the people said, asking not to be named because the information wasn’t public.
While it’s unclear how much CSF will ultimately deploy into China’s $6.6 trillion equity market, the financing is up to 25 times bigger than the support fund started by Chinese brokerages earlier this month. That’s probably enough to restore confidence among China’s 90 million individual investors, says Bocom International Holdings Co. The Shanghai Composite Index jumped 3.5 percent on Friday, capping a two-week rally that’s turned it into one of the world’s best-performing equity gauges.
“It doesn’t have to use up all the money, as long as it can make the rest of the market believe that it has enough ammunition,” said Hao Hong, a China strategist at Bocom International in Hong Kong. “It is a game of chicken. For now, it seems to be working.”
China is engineering yet another mini-boom. Credit is picking up again. The Communist Party has helpfully outlawed falling equity prices.
Economic growth will almost certainly accelerate over the next few months, giving global commodity markets a brief reprieve.
Yet the underlying picture in China is going from bad to worse. Robin Brooks at Goldman Sachs estimates that capital outflows topped $224bn in the second quarter, a level "beyond anything seen historically".
The Chinese central bank (PBOC) is being forced to run down the country's foreign reserves to defend the yuan. This intervention is becoming chronic. The volume is rising. Mr Brooks calculates that the authorities sold $48bn of bonds between March and June.
Charles Dumas at Lombard Street Research says capital outflows - when will we start calling it capital flight? - have reached $800bn over the past year. These are frighteningly large sums of money.
. . .
The squeeze earlier this year came at the worst moment, just as the country was struggling to emerge from recession. I use the term recession advisedly. Looking back, we may conclude that the world economy came within a whisker of stalling in the first half of 2015.
The Dutch CPB's world trade index shows that shipping volumes contracted by 1.2pc in May, and have been negative in four of the past five months. This is extremely rare. It would usually imply a global recession under the World Bank's definition.
The epicentre of this crunch has clearly been in China, with cascade effects through Russia, Brazil and the commodity nexus.
Chinese industry ground to a halt earlier this year. Electricity use fell. Rail freight dropped at near double-digit rates. What had begun as a deliberate policy by Beijing to rein in excess credit escaped control, escalating into a vicious balance-sheet purge.
The Chinese authorities have tried to counter the slowdown by talking up an irresponsible stock market boom in the state-controlled media. This has been a fiasco of the first order.
The equity surge had no discernable effect on GDP growth, and probably diverted spending away from the real economy. The $4 trillion crash that followed has exposed the true reflexes of President Xi Jinping.
Half the shares traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen were suspended. New floats were halted. Some 300 corporate bosses were strong-armed into buying back their own shares. Police state tactics were used hunt down short sellers.
. . .
This use of "brute force" - in the words of Peking University professor Michael Pettis - has done the trick. Equities have recovered. How could they not do so, since selling was illegal, and not to buy was also illegal?