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The Market Ticker - Paul Ryan, Liar

The Market Ticker - 14 May 2015 - 1:46am

Ryan, stuff it.

Go read this, you evil lying sack of crap.

The TPP is a trainwreck and will further destroy our job base, and any Congressperson who supports it deserves to lose their job, pension and any form of job or income security they think they might have had.


Take your lying crap and shove it where you deserve to put your packed-with-lies budget, Mizzter Ryan.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Retail Sales: Sucks

The Market Ticker - 14 May 2015 - 12:54am

This is a huge problem folks...

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for April, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $436.8 billion, virtually unchanged (±0.5%)* from the previous month, but 0.9 percent (±0.9%)* above April 2014.

There's no good news in here.  +0.9% annual "growth" is damn close to zero.  That's not a monthly aberration, it's very visible over the last year and can no longer be dismissed.


(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - What Needs To Become A Trend

The Market Ticker - 14 May 2015 - 12:11am

This is the sort of thing that needs to become a trend nationally:

RICHMOND, Va. — A University of Virginia associate dean sued Rolling Stone magazine on Tuesday for more than $7.5 million, saying a debunked and retracted account of an alleged gang rape on campus cast her as the “chief villain.”

Nicole Eramo, the top administrator dealing with sexual assaults at the Charlottesville school, said the lengthy and graphic magazine piece about a student rape victim identified only as “Jackie” portrayed her as more concerned about protecting the elite university’s reputation than helping victims of sexual assault.

He needs to add "Jackie" to the suit as well, as does anyone else who is falsely accused.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

Despite drought, California is still bottling water for export

Energy Bulletin - 13 May 2015 - 11:20pm

An inverted totalitarian position is in direct opposition to the ecological principles that have, in previous years, been part and parcel of the very fabric of California.

Categories: Peak oil news

As Andes Warm, Deciphering The Future for Tropical Birds

Energy Bulletin - 13 May 2015 - 11:19pm

Why do plants and animals segregate themselves by altitude?

Categories: Peak oil news

The Woman Who Chose to Plant Corn

Energy Bulletin - 13 May 2015 - 11:17pm

Not long ago, a Diné (Navajo) friend of mine, Lyla June Johnston, sent me a one-line email: “I am not going to Harvard… I am going to plant corn.”

Categories: Peak oil news

The Market Ticker - Where Is The Line?

The Market Ticker - 13 May 2015 - 11:15pm


A Central California woman claims she was fired after uninstalling an app that her employer required her to run constantly on her company issued iPhone—an app that tracked her every move 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Plaintiff Myrna Arias, a former Bakersfield sales executive for money transfer service Intermex, claims in a state court lawsuit that her boss, John Stubits, fired her shortly after she uninstalled the job-management Xora app that she and her colleagues were required to use.

Apparently the device in question was company issued; it was not her phone.  She.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

What is a Transition-Oriented Enterprise?

Energy Bulletin - 13 May 2015 - 11:15pm

The aspirational principles laid out below help define what is meant by a Transition-oriented Enterprise (TE).

Categories: Peak oil news

Resilience Reflections with Brian Kaller

Energy Bulletin - 13 May 2015 - 8:30pm

If you look at the world’s situation right now and feel a measure of grief, it doesn’t mean you’re sick, it means you’re decent. That feeling is why our species deserves to be saved.

Categories: Peak oil news

Fairytales from the Federal Reserve: 15 Reasons Fed Policies Belong in Fantasyland

The Daily Reckoning - 13 May 2015 - 9:00am

This post Fairytales from the Federal Reserve: 15 Reasons Fed Policies Belong in Fantasyland appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Editor’s Note: Jim Rickards has published a third book entitled “The Big Drop: How to Grow Your Wealth During the Coming Collapse.” It’s available exclusively for readers of his monthly investment letter called Strategic Intelligence. Before you read today’s essay, please click here to see why it’s the resource every investor should have if they’re concerned about the future of the dollar.]

Don’t ever think for a minute that the central bankers know what they’re doing. They don’t. And that’s my own view, but I’ve heard that recently from a couple central bankers. I recently had spent some time with one member of the FOMC, the Federal Open Market Committee, and another member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, which is the equivalent of their FOMC, both policymakers, both central bankers.

And they said the same thing, “We don’t know what we’re doing. This is a massive experiment. We’ve never done this before. We try something. If it works, maybe we do a little more; if it doesn’t work, we pull it away, and we’ll try something else.” And the evidence of this – again, I’ve heard this firsthand, and it’s my view – but the evidence for this is that their have been 15 separate fed policies in the last 5 years.

If you think about it, they started with forward guidance, which was, “We will keep rates low for an extended period of time.” And then they said, “Oh, extended means all the way to 2013.” And then they said, “All the way to 2014.” And they were kind of getting around to, “All the way to 2015,” and they said, “Wait a second. The dates don’t work. Let’s use some numeric concepts.”

So, they started nominal GDP targeting where they said, “We have this threshold of 2.5 percent inflation, but not based on actual inflation, but based on projected inflation, as projected by the Fed, which means it could be whatever they want it, and then 6.5 percent unemployment, but when we got down to 6.5, they said, “Oh, just kidding. We’re not gonna apply that.”

They had currency wars. They had Operation Twist, QE1, QE2, QE3 − except QE3 came in two flavors, $45 billion a month and $85 billion a month, except now, they’re tapering, but the taper isn’t even the first taper because at the end of QE1, that was 100 percent taper, and at the end of QE2, that was 100 percent taper, so we have two data points to say tapering doesn’t work. It fails, and I expect this will fail as well.

My point is, if you add all this up, all the forward guidance, all the dates, all the targets, the currency wars, operation twist, all the flavors of QE, 15 separate fed policies in 5 years, that tells you, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re making it up as you go along. So people should have no confidence in the Fed. That’s for starters.

Now, beyond that, if you look at Fed models and look at what Fed monetary economists actually do, they use equilibrium models, or they’re called dynamic stochastic equilibrium models. There’s only one problem with equilibrium models: They bear no relationship to reality.

The world is not an equilibrium system. The world is a complex system, or at least the capital markets are complex systems. So you can’t apply an equilibrium model to a complex system. They behave completely differently.

So it’s as if I said, “I’m holding a pen in my hand. I’m gonna release it, and I want you to give me a forecast as to what’s gonna happen to the pen.” You’ll think about it and say, “Well, that pen’s gonna hit the floor.”

And I let go, and sure enough, it hits the floor. Well, how do you know that? Well, you have a model. You know the pen has weight. You understand gravity. We’re on the planet earth, etc. Everything about your model, which is the correct one, says the pen’s gonna hit the floor. Well, the Fed has a model that says the pen’s gonna float to the ceiling. If you have the wrong model, you’re gonna get the wrong result every time.

So, first of all, we have observation of 15 fed policies in 5 years. You’re totally making it up. Secondly, I have firsthand discussions with central bankers, who admit to me privately – they won’t say this publicly – that they are making it up. And, finally, I understand the models, and I understand how the world works, and the models bear no relationship to the reality.

So, for all these reasons, people should have no confidence in what the Fed is doing. They should have a lot more confidence in their own instinct, in their own intuition, and what they’re hearing from independent advisors.

P.S. If you haven’t heard, I’ve just released a new book called The Big Drop. It wasn’t a book I was intending to write. But it warns of a few critical dangers that every American should begin preparing for right now.

Here’s the catch — this book is not available for sale. Not anywhere in the world. Not online through Amazon. And not in any brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Instead, I’m on a nationwide campaign to spread the book far and wide… for FREE. Because every American deserves to know the truth about the imminent dangers facing their wealth.

That’s why I’ve gone ahead and reserved a free copy of my new book in your name. It’s on hold, waiting for your response. I just need your permission (and a valid U.S. postal address) to drop it in the mail.

Click here to fill out your address and contact info. If you accept the terms, the book will arrive at your doorstep in the next few weeks.

The post Fairytales from the Federal Reserve: 15 Reasons Fed Policies Belong in Fantasyland appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

Remember When…

The Daily Reckoning - 13 May 2015 - 4:41am

This post Remember When… appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Welcome to The Daily Reckoning’s “Remember When” series. Each day we turn back the clock and take a look at our musings from five and ten years ago to the day.

Not only will you be shocked at just how quickly time passes (yes, 2005 was a decade ago), but you can see what we predicted correctly, what we missed the mark on, and how history does, in fact, have a habit of rhyming.

5 Years Ago Today on The Daily Reckoning…

“European Bailout: Deciphering the ‘I’ in IOU”

Bill Bonner wrote this piece about how the overall problem in financial systems the world over is not the fickleness of the marketplace or the stupidity of voters. It’s not even a lack of regulation. It’s debt. Soon the Euro feds (along with their American counterparts) will discover that you can’t cure a debt problem with more debt.

In the wake of the Euro bailout, optimism was cooling. Who has to pay for what? Will it happen at all if some nations vote against it? What exactly is the risk, and how much is it going to cost to protect against it? If the American dollar is an IOU issued by the world’s biggest debtor, than what is the euro? Bill explained that it is an IOU too, but nobody knows who the ‘I’ is.

“Euro Goes off the Deep End”

This brief article featured the below political cartoon:

Our editor believed this is what hitching a ride on Greek coattails may look like, with the inner circle nations of the European Union having all gone in (to the tune of a trillion dollars) to rescue periphery states.

“Goldman’s Perfect Quarter”

This article highlighted an SEC filing in which Goldman disclosed its first-ever “perfect” quarter, having navigated the first quarter without producing even a single day of losses. But, our editor was very skeptical, reminding dear readers that this isn’t possible.

Goldman believed this showed the strength of their customer franchise and risk management, but there seemed to be something very wrong with this picture. Our editor offered an alternative interpretation, that attributed Goldman’s uncanny trading success to the strength of its “political franchise,” subsidized risk-taking and various forms of de facto front-running. Essentially, if we were talking casinos, Goldman would be the house. If you had better luck in Las Vegas than you do with your broker account, something is amiss.

“The Eden Myth and the Ratification Con of 1789”

This article detailed the six acts committed by the new Congress it its first session from March through September of 1789, that signaled the beginning of all the most loathsome attributes of any government: tax, distortion, discord and warfare.

The first was administrative needs like deciding on how oaths of office were to be taken. Fairly harmless. The second to come was the “Hamilton Tariff,” which served to raise revenue. Our editor makes an interesting point here that the second-ever Act of the US Congress was to arrange for the confiscation of property, which ultimately meant the scene was set for internal conflict and years of warfare.

Third was the establishment of “Foreign Affairs,” or what is now the Department of State. It was by these foreign affairs that new government was to execute policies toward other nations. Our editor says that, by establishing this, it was clear there were to be some nations more favored, others less favored, which is ultimately the cause of war and conflict. Congress’s third act was to set the scene for all future external conflict.

Fourth was an Act to to set up a Department of War (currently know as “Defense”), which is pretty logical, to be fair. If you play favorites with other nations, eventually you’re bound to fight some of them. Better prepared than not, right?

Fifth was the Department of the Treasury, which was obviously for taking in and accounting for the collection and spending of money (money confiscated by the second act). The IRS belongs to this department… need we say more?

The sixth action was the “Judiciary Act.” At face value, the purpose was to flesh out Article Three, which said there was to be a Judicial Branch in the new government, as well as establishing Courts (supreme, district, circuit), and government Attorneys. But in addition to all that administrative crap, this act declared that the Supreme Court had the power to hear certain cases with original jurisdiction, and not to be just a court of appeal. Right off the bat, in its first session, Congress deliberately tried to do something it was not empowered to do, granting its sister Branch a power which Article Three never gave it. Give em’ an inch and they take a mile.

“The Gold Rush That Greece has Ignited”

This article featured commentary from MarketWatch regarding the fact that governments around the world were throwing money at the multiple debt crises facing several EU countries. Our editor also discussed euro weakness in the wake of the Greek sovereign debt crisis, and how gold was at new record highs that day, starting at $1,245.

When the EU fund was announced, fears about risks of the Greek crisis spreading a contagion were calmed, but markets remained skeptical about the government’s ability to cut their deficits swiftly.

Our editor believed this was hardly a problem exclusive to the euro — the British pound was troubled by England’s hung parliament, the renminbi was not freely traded, and of course you could count on the American dollar having a sizeable deficit.

“Transocean (NYSE:RIG) – Don’t Throw the RIG Out with the Bathwater”

Agora Financial’s Byron King wrote this essay about Transocean shares hitting $65.

Transocean refers to the Transocean Discoverer “Inspiration,” a large ship for drilling oil in oceans over 7,000 feet. Ships like this are stronger, can lift more, drill deeper, and find the stuff that’s really hard to find. Inspiration is one of the largest drilling vessels to ever hit the water. This is the future for hydrocarbons and oil.

In the article, King explains that a lot of people were pointing fingers at Transocean because they are either ignorant or have an interest in shifting blame. At the end of the day, he said, BP hired Transocean to drill a well that BP designed, so if Transocean followed procedure, you can’t place blame on them. Ultimately, Byron believes this all comes down to human errors like bad risk management and subpar equipment and technology.

“Gold Investing: Protection Against Inflation”

In this Bill Bonner essay, he discussed one of our favorite topics here at the DR: buying gold. Bill’s guess was that gold was beginning to move up, on both good news and bad news. It didn’t seem to matter if it was inflationary or deflationary – gold was beginning to act more and more like real money and not just speculation.

When inflation goes up, everyone wants something that maintains your purchasing power even as the paper currency goes down. Traditionally, that would be gold because you can’t just print more of that.

Gold may not be perfect, Bill mused, but it’s the best thing we have to protect ourselves when consumer prices start going up. Both the euro and dollar custodians decided to sacrifice the integrity of their currencies, just so they could bail out bondholders, which leaves gold as choice number one.

10 Years Ago Today on The Daily Reckoning…

“Financial Madness”

In this article, our editor examined China in two ways; the optimistic standpoint of viewing it as a rapidly growing country filled with opportunity, or as a ticking time-bomb just waiting to destroy itself.

In the long run, it seems China’s rise is inevitable, but in the short run, China had to deal with dangerous internal weakness, like a rotten banking system, poor internal controls, and a dangerous torrent of speculative capital in pursuit of aggressive returns that could boil over the economy and unleash a lot of instability down the road.

There was a split opinion as to whether China will make the full transition to free-market capitalism with its current political system intact. Pessimists think a top-down, statist approach will not mix with free markets. Optimists cite thriving countries like Singapore as an example, where capitalism flourished under Lee Kuan Yew, and an arrangement that may appear statist and authoritarian is more democratic than it looks, due to people willingly endorsing the arrangement. The tradeoff here was stability for prosperity.

“Liquidity of GM Bonds”

This article reported on investor Kirk Kerkorian, who owned 3.9% of GM stock, and offered to more than double his stake in GM and then buy an additional 28 million shares at $31. The stock soared 18% in one day to close at $32.80 (bad time to be short). The following day, the S&P downgraded GM bonds to junk status (bad time to be long).

Our editor believed that anyone who is long GM bonds after the well-documented troubles at the automaker of the previous year must be, in the words of Alan Greenspan, “desirous of losing money.”

“Echoes of 1998”

Another article from this day, ten years ago, touched on the skidding of GM bonds and the Wall Street rumor mill making noise about several large hedge funds that were reeling from an ill-timed capital structure arbitrage play. Neither side of the arbitrage behaved as anticipated, which caused several big hedge funds to suffer enormous losses.

Many hedge funds were loading up on General Motors bonds, while simultaneously selling short GM stock, betting that GM would limp along and be able to make the interest payments on its bonds. The gamble proved pretty disastrous when both sides of the trade “blew-out” in the wrong direction.

Join us tomorrow for another editorial glimpse back in time.

À tout à l’heure,

Genevieve LeFranc
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. Time flies when you’re getting swindled by monetary policy! When you sign up for the Daily Reckoning, you can receive timely, relevant, fascinating information like this everyday, getting a chuckle in while you grow your wealth. Did I mention it’s free? Because it is! Sign up here today to start receiving The Daily Reckoning to your inbox, completely free of charge.

The post Remember When… appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Engadget Can't Help Itself

The Market Ticker - 13 May 2015 - 3:03am

This review of the Leap is interesting....

To sum it up.

  • The camera is great, particularly in a phone at this price-point.  But..... the CPU is old.
  • The phone is snappy in performance and does not feel constrained.  But..... the CPU is old.
  • The screen is not an AMOLED, although it's of the dot pitch one expects in something of this size.
  • The battery life is outstanding, in fact, the phone will probably go two days without being charged.  But.... the CPU is old!
  • The build quality is excellent, it looks and feels.......

    (Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

The day Transition Wilmslow won me in a competition.

Transition Culture - 13 May 2015 - 3:02am

It's not often that I'm won in a competition.  Transition Wilmslow entered some competition thing that REconomy ran a while back in which a talk by me was the prize, they were first out of the hat, so several months later I boarded the train to Wilmslow, 11 miles south of Manchester, in the north-west of England. 

It's a wealthy town, the seat of George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and is apparently one of the most sought-after places to live after central London (thanks Wikipedia).  Sir Alex Ferguson lives there.  It's the only town I've been to which has, on its high street, an Aston Martin showroom with a car on its forecourt for sale at £118,000.  I didn't buy it.  Like most such places though, that's only half the story.  The gulf between rich and poor in the town was the subject of Doves' track 'Black and White Town' (the band went to the local school). 

Transition Wilmslow was started by Rachel Corrigan, in 2010.  Shortly afterwards, Pippa Jones was driving home and stopped at a progressive service station on the M6 (there is one apparently) and found a copy of The Transition Handbook and decided when she got home that she wanted to do Transition in Wilmslow.  She saw an advert in a shop window asking for others who were interested, and the group started to grow... 

Now, in 2015, Transition Wilmslow are very active, but like many Transition groups I meet, feel they aren't doing much.  In order to counter that belief, here is some of what they've done so far:

  • Food Group: wanted to set up a Community Garden, originally they had the idea that they needed a field, but when one didn't turn up, they contacted the council who suggested they use the end of a park called The Temp.  Now features fruit trees and raised vegetable beds.  Have also planted two other orchards, and run a 'Seedy Saturday' event.
  • Open Space events: on various subjects
  • Transport Group: has worked with Cycle Wilmslow to promote family cycling, and to support the local 20's Plenty campaign
  • Green Drinks: every month
  • Film Nights: a very popular regular series of film screenings
  • 'Love Wilmslow - Love Our Planet': an event with Churches Together in Wilmslow
  • Energy Group: won some funding through LEAF a couple of years ago which funded a thermal imaging camera which has been used to assess 100 houses.  A number of energy surveys have been done too, with energy monitors available for people to use for free

After meeting the group we went to visit The Temp garden, apple trees laid out on a triangular grid so that raised beds would fit between them.  Only one 'triangle' of raised beds has so far been planted but it featured all manner of veg growing well. 

Then we walked to Lindow Moss, a huge raised mire peat bog on the edge of Wilmslow.  Lindow Moss is perhaps best known as the place where 'Lindow Man' (or more correctly 'Lindow II') was found in 1984.  This was a 'bog body', preserved by the sphagnum moss, since his ritual murder and burial around 2,000 years ago.  More recently, soldiers returning from the Crimean War with syphilis found themselves, understandably, not welcome at home any longer, and were kind of exiled to the Moss, where they made a rather miserable living cutting peat. 

Lindow Moss has been used for peat extraction for centuries, and the way extraction rights were given had shaped the landscape.  As we entered the Moss, we passed beautiful long thin fields, bordered by very old willows, known as 'Moss Rooms', now turned back into grazing.  Some parts of the Moss haven't been used for peat extraction for many years, and have begun natural regeneration to woodland.  It's a beautiful, tranquil place with lots of birdlife. 

The heart of the site is another matter altogether.  The peat was laid down over many thousands of years, and 4,000 years ago was a pine forest which was then taken over by sphagnum moss.  Deep in the peat many 4,000 year old pines still exist, or at least did until the peat extraction company which owns the site began cutting the peat, and, in effect, chipping the trees where they stood.  Standing looking out at, as far as the eye can see, industrially harvested peat, is heart breaking.  Here and there there's what remains of a stump of an ancient tree. 

Peat bogs can hold 20 times more carbon than a forest, and are vital to the fight against climate change.  Yet here they are being torn up to provide low quality lining for hanging baskets and for compost.  The Guardian's 'Keep it in the Ground' campaign feels just as relevant to Lindow Moss as it does to the Athabasca Tar Sands.  The company that own it have applied for planning to build 14 executive homes on the edge of the Moss to supposedly raise the money to resinstate the Moss as peat bog, a proposal that has divided opinion in Wilmslow, somewhat akin to a "vote for me or the kitten gets it" kind of approach.  

John Handley, Professor Emeritus of Landscape and Environmental Planning at the University of Manchester, joined the group around this time, bringing huge expertise, and founding the Planning and Environment Group.  The group has been feeding into various Local Plans, their input has led to significant changes in those plans.  They also undertook a Landscape Character Assessment, surveying the local area, the Lindow Moss in particular, getting lots of people out, learning how assess landscapes and, as John put it to me, "having a lot of fun".  Exploring the area led to a far richer understanding of it, including, as he put it, "we found ourselves in 'informal landscapes' (that's overgrown, wild places to you and I) where clearly teenagers do a lot of growing up".  You get the idea.

Given the recent application from the site's owners for housing and reinstatement, John and the group brought together lots of local groups with an interest in the place which led to a commitment to produce a 'New Vision for Lindow Moss', to "restore, conserve and celebrate this unique landscape".  They have been exploring how it might be reinstated as a carbon sink, how it might be protected and improved for recreation and exercise, how its history might be presented and interpreted (at present there is nothing that marks the site where Lindow Man was discovered.  It could also be a great site for green tourism.

Since then, the group have held a Dawn Walk for Lindow Man, on the 30th anniversary of his discovery, and run a series of events, meetings and exhibitions.  At one point on the walk we stopped to see the trunk of a 4,000 year old pine tree, a very useful thing to see if you want to get some kind of a sense of perspective on time (see photo above).  After a long and fascinating walk across the Moss, we ended up back in town, at the Friends Meeting House, for the evening's event.  After a great potluck supper, I gave my presentation. 

It's not every day you get to give a talk on Election Night, so that was a theme I returned to regularly during the talk.  Here is a podcast of it:   

Afterwards we had a great Q&A session...

... and then retired to the pub round the corner.  Next morning I met with the group and then ran me through their work and we talked about ideas for how they might move their work forward.  We talked about REconomy, Caring Town Totnes, Inner Transition, bringing some business thinking to the amazing work they have already done, and whether a community buy-out of the Moss might be an option, as a carbon sink. 

It was a fascinating trip, with a great group doing great stuff.  Like every group I visit, they tell me they don't think they've done much, so I ask them to tell me what they've done, and 20 minutes later everyone is feeling rather proud of themselves.  I said to them what I say to every group I meet who ask the same questions - when did you last pause to celebrate what you've done?  When did you last stop, take a breath, pat each other on the back and celebrate?  There is then a moment where everyone looks at each other and realises that, actually, they hardly ever do.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and celebration is a key element of us sustaining ourselves. Wherever you might be reading this, please pause for 10 seconds to give Transition Wilmslow a short but enthusiastic round of applause.  Then give yourself one too.  

My thanks for Transition Wilmslow for winning me (!), for their wonderful hospitality, especially Pippa and Anthony, my hosts.  

Categories: TT news

A Timeline of United States Currency

The Daily Reckoning - 13 May 2015 - 3:00am

This post A Timeline of United States Currency appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Have you ever reached into your wallet for one of those crinkled green bills and thought, ‘How does this little piece of paper control my entire freaking life? How did I get here?”

Or maybe you’ve wondered why you’ve seen about five different versions of a $20 bill over the course of your lifetime.

What’s up with that?

The history of American currency not only spans centuries, but also boasts quite the fascinating and, shall we say, colorful past.

Not only is this pretty interesting stuff, but it will help you make sense of how we arrived at our current situation of fiat currency, a central bank, and a dollar that is rapidly losing value. And what’s that old saying about history repeating itself? Knowing where we’ve been and how we got there always gives you an edge as an investor, as you may be able to predict trends that are giving you deja vu.

Plus you’ll learn more about how the dreaded Federal Reserve came to be and the history from which their behaviour stems. While you may be sick of hearing about the fed, what they say and do moves markets, and as an investor, you have to be aware of what they’re saying, thinking, and planning.

United States currency has been an evolutionary process that walks hand-in hand with the growth of our nation, often changing in times of crisis -like the Great Depression or September 11th- or as a response to a frustrated society struggling to create a monetary system that would actually function correctly and restore confidence in the American dollar.

From purchasing power, to the size, shape and color of bills, to the creation of the independent central bank, read on for a run-down on the United States history of what makes the world go round; money.

1690: Colonial Cash

In 1690, early Americans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the first to issue paper money to meet high demands for trade and as a response to the shortage of coins, which were the primary form of money at the time.

The first paper money was issued to pay for military expeditions, but other colonies followed suit and, although this early money was supposed to be backed by gold or silver, some colonists found that they could not redeem the paper currency as promised, and it quickly lost its worth.

1739: Franklin and Counterfeiting

But where were these colonial bills being created? Benjamin Franklin had a printing firm in Philadelphia that printed paper currency with nature prints. These were completely unique, raised impressions of patterns cast from actual leaves, which added a counterfeit to the money. Benji’s innovative method was not completely understood until centuries later.

1764: British Ban

For years Britain had been placing restrictions on colonial paper money, and in 1764 they finally ordered a complete ban on the issuance of paper money by the Colonies.

1775-1791: The Dawn of U.S. Currency As We Know It

The Continental Congress had to do something to finance the American Revolution, so they printed our brand spankin’ new country’s first ever paper money, known as “continentals.” This was the dawn of fiat currency as we know it today.

Continental One-Third Dollar Bill
Source: Wikipedia.org

These paper money notes didn’t have solid backing, were counterfeited easily, and were issued in such large quantities to so many people that, what do you think happened? You guessed it – inflation.

It started off pretty mild, but as the war trudged on there was massive acceleration in inflation. The phrase “not worth a continental” became part of the common lexicon, meaning something was entirely worthless.

First Charter Original Series note with Allison-Spinner signatures and a small red seal with rays. This was one of the most popular Gold Bank notes issued in California in the 1870s.
Source: MindSerpent.com

1791-1811: Central Banking – Let’s Give This a Shot

At the time, Alexander Hamilton was the Treasury Secretary. He’s the guy who urged Congress to establish the First Bank of the United States in 1791 to help the government handle war debt. Hamilton was also the architect of the bank, headquartered in Philadelphia. It was the largest corporation in the entire country, and was dominated by money interests and big banking.

It started out with a capital of $10 million, but most Americans were strongly against the idea of a large and powerful bank. And, the government’s war debt was largely paid off, so when the bank’s 20-year charter finally expired in 1811, Congress refused to renew it by one vote.

Alexander Hamilton
Source: Buzzle.com

First National Bank, Philadelphia
Source: SeekingAlpha.com

1816-1836: Let’s Try That Again…

Federal debt started stacking up again with the War of 1812, and the political climate once again found itself entertaining the concept of a central bank. By only a small margin, Congress agreed to charter the Second Bank of the U.S.

In 1828 Andrew Jackson was elected president. Jackson was a notorious foe of the central bank and vowed to destroy it. His point of view struck a chord with most Americans, and when the Second Bank’s charter expired in 1836, it was, to the shock of no one, not renewed.

Andrew Jackson
Source: WiseGeek.org

1836-1865: The Free Banking Era

During what is known as the Free Banking Era, state-chartered banks and unchartered “free banks” took hold. Banks began issuing their own money notes that could be redeemed in gold or coins, and offered demand deposits to enhance commerce.

This caused a big jump in the volume of check transactions. In response, the New York Clearing House Association was established in 1853, which provided a way for the city’s banks to formally exchange checks and settle accounts.

The New York Clearing House depicted in the 19th century
Source: Wikipedia.org

1863: Passing of the National Banking Act

During the Civil War, the National Banking Act of 1863 was passed. Abraham Lincoln signed what was originally known as the National Currency Act, which for the first time in American history established the federal dollar as the sole currency of the United States. Having everyone on the same currency provided for nationally chartered banks, whose circulating notes had to be backed by U.S. government securities.

There was an amendment to the act, which required taxation on state bank notes but not national bank notes, which effectively created a uniform currency for the nation. Even though they were being taxed on their notes, state banks continued to flourish in light of the increasing popularity of demand deposits, which, as we told you, took hold during the Free Banking Era.

1873-1907: Financial Freak Outs

While there was a little bit of currency stability for our rapidly growing country, thanks to the National Banking Act of 1863, bank runs and financial panics were far from a thing of the past, and perpetually plagued the economy.

These bank panics were so universal that they made their way into mainstream popular culture. You might remember this clip from the old classic It’s a Wonderful Life:

In 1893, a bank panic triggered the worst depression the United States had ever seen. The economy only stabilized after hot-shot financial mogul J.P. Morgan swooped in with an ‘S’ on his chest to save the day. Now more than ever, it was crystal clear that the nation’s banking and financial system needed serious attention and reform.

The 1896 Broadway melodrama The War of Wealth was inspired by the bank panic of 1893.
Source: Wikipedia.org

1907: An Abysmal Year

Saying that 1907 was a very bad year for the stock market could be the understatement of the century. What started as a bout of speculation on Wall Street ended in utter failure, triggering a particularly severe banking panic. Again, tried-and-true J.P. Morgan was called upon to save the American people and avert disaster.

We mentioned that, by this time, most Americans were fed up with the banking system jerking them and their savings around. Everyone agreed that the current system desperately needed some kind of reform, but the structure of that reform deeply divided American citizens between conservatives and progressives.

The one thing they could agree on was that a central banking authority was needed to ensure a healthy banking system and provide for an elastic currency.

1908-1912: A Decentralized Central Bank

An immediate response to the panic of 1907 was the Aldrich-Vreeland Act of 1908, which would provide for emergency currency issue during crises. Lead by Senator Nelson Aldrich, the commission developed a banker-controlled plan.

Progressives like William Jennings Bryan strongly opposed; they wanted a central bank under public control. The act also established the national Monetary Commission in the hopes of finally finding a long-term solution to the nation’s seemingly endless banking and financial problems.

Alas, the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson in 1912 effectively killed the Republican Aldrich plan, but the stage was set for a decentralized central bank to emerge.

1912: Creating the Federal Reserve Act

Woodrow Wilson was a far cry from a finance and banking expert, so he wisely sought out expert advice from Virginia Representative and soon-to-be chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Finance, Carter Glass, and H. Parker Willis, a former professor of economics at Washington and Lee University.

Sen. Carter Glass (left) and Rep. Henry B. Steagall, the co-sponsors of the Glass-Steagall Act.
Source: Wikipedia.org

For the majority of 1912, Glass and Willis worked on a central bank proposal, and by December of that year, they presented Wilson with what would become the Federal Reserve Act. The Glass-Willis proposal was intensely debated and modified from December of 1912 to December of 1913.

1913: The Creation of the Federal Reserve System

December 23, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act into law. Many saw this Act as a classic example of compromise—a decentralized central bank that worked to balance the two competing interests of private banks and what the American people wanted.

1914: Come On In, We’re Open

The Reserve Bank Operating Committee was composed of Secretary of Agriculture David Houston, Treasury Secretary William McAdoo, and Comptroller of the Currency John Skelton Williams. It was these three men who had the daunting and unenviable task of building a functioning institution around the brass tacks of the new law before the new central bank could begin operating.

However, come November 16, 1914, 12 cities had been chosen as sites for regional Reserve Banks, and they were open for business. But the timing wasn’t great, as this was just as hostilities in Europe erupted into World War I.

1914-1919: WWI Federal Reserve Policy

Thanks to the emergency currency issued under the Aldrich-Vreeland Act of 1908, banks continued to operate normally despite the breakout of World War I in mid-1914. The bigger impact in the U.S. came from the Reserve Banks’ ability to discount bankers acceptances.

This allowed the United States to indirectly help finance the war and aid the flow of trade goods to Europe. That is until 1917, when the United States officially declared war on Germany and financing our own war effort became priority number one.

1920s: Open Market Operations – The Beginning

Benjamin Strong (head of the New York Fed from 1914-1928) acknowledged that, following WWI, gold was no longer the central factor in controlling credit. Strong started to buy up a large amount of government securities in an effort to stem a recession in 1923.

To a lot of people, this was a clear indication of the influential power of open market operations on the availability of credit in the banking system.

It was during the 1920s that the Fed started using open market operations as a tool for monetary policy. During his time there, Strong elevated the Fed’s standing by promoting relationships with other central banks, particularly the Bank of England.

1929-1933: The Crash and the Depression

All throughout the 1920s, Carter Glass warned the general public that stock market speculation would lead to dire consequences. But did they listen? In October 1929, he had the displeasure of being right when his predictions proved to be spot-on and the stock market crashed.

What followed was the worst depression in American history.

Nearly 10,000 banks failed from 1930 to 1933, and by March of 1933, freshly inaugurated President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared a bank holiday while government officials desperately tried to fix the nation’s extreme economic problems.

People were angry with the Fed, and blamed them for failing to diminish the speculative lending that led to the crash in the first place. Others argued that a fundamentally inadequate understanding of economics and monetary policy prevented the Fed from going after policies that could have arguably lessened the depth and effects of the Depression.

National Bank note issued in 1929 by the Atlanta and Lowry National Bank. The red seal reads, “Redeemable in lawful money of the United States at United States Treasury or at the bank of issue.” At the time, lawful money referred to gold coin, silver coin, gold or silver certificates, or U.S. notes.
Source: www.let.rug.nl

1933: The Aftermath

After the Great Depression, Congress passed the Banking Act of 1933 (or the Glass-Steagall Act) which separated commercial and investment banking, and required government securities to be used as collateral for Federal Reserve notes.

This Act also established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which gave the Fed control over open market operations and required them to examine bank holding companies.

This practice proved to have major future impacts when holding companies became a prevalent structure for banks. Along with all the other massive reforms taking place left and right, Roosevelt went ahead and recalled each and every gold and silver certificate, effectively ending gold and other metallic standards.

1935: Ch-ch-changes

The Banking Act of 1935 required even more changes to the Fed’s structure.

The FOMC was created (Federal Open Market Committee) as an entirely separate legal entity, the Treasury Secretary and the Comptroller of the Currency were removed from the Fed’s governing board, and members’ terms were set at 14 years.

Adding further to the Fed’s list of responsibilities post-WWII, the Employment Act added the goal of promising maximum employment levels.

In 1956, The Fed was named the regulator of bank holding companies owning more than one bank with the passing of the Bank Holding Company Act. In 1978 the Humphrey-Hawkins Act required that the Fed chairman report to Congress twice a year on monetary policy goals and objectives.

1951: The Treasury Accord

After the U.S. entered WWII in 1942, the Federal Reserve System committed to keeping a low interest rate peg on government bonds. This was at the request of the Treasury so the federal government could participate in cheaper debt financing of the war. To maintain the pegged rate, the Fed was forced to give up control of the size of its portfolio as well as the money stock.

Conflict between the Treasury and the Fed became obvious when the Treasury directed the Fed to maintain the peg after the start of the Korean War in 1950.

President Harry Truman and Secretary of the Treasury John Snyder both strongly supported the low interest rate peg. Truman felt it was his duty to protect patriotic citizens by not lowering the value of the bonds that they had purchased during the war.

The Federal Reserve, on the other hand, was focused on containing inflationary pressures in the economy, caused by the growing intensity of the Korean War.

The Fed and the Treasury got into an intense debate for control over interest rates and U.S. monetary policy. They were only able to settle their dispute with an agreement known as the Treasury-Fed Accord. The Fed was no longer obligated to monetize the debt of the Treasury at a fixed rate, and the Accord became essential to the independence of central banking and the Fed pursues monetary policy today.

1970s-1980s: Inflation, Deflation

The 1970s were on an inflation skyrocket to the moon as producer and consumer prices rose, oil prices surged, and the federal deficit more than doubled.

Paul Volcker was sworn in as Fed chairman in August 1979, and, by that time, drastic action was needed to break inflation’s death grip on the United States economy. Like lancing a nasty wound, Volcker’s leadership as Fed chairman in the 80s proved painful in the short term, but successful in bringing the double-digit inflation infection under control overall.

1980: Movin’ On Up! Preparing for Financial Modernization

The Monetary Control Act of 1980 marked the beginning of modern banking industry reforms.

The Act required the Fed to competitively price its financial services against those of private sector providers, and to establish reserve requirements for all eligible financial institutions.

After the Act was passed, interstate banking quickly increased, and banks started to offer interest-paying accounts to attract customers from brokerage firms.

Change was chugging along quite steadily, and, in 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was passed, essentially overturning the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and permitting banks to offer an array of financial services that were previously unavailable, including investment banking and insurance.

1990s: A Decade of Economic Expansion

A mere two months after Alan Greenspan took office as the Fed chairman, the stock market crashed on October 19, 1987. Lucky guy. So what does he do? On October 20, he ordered the Fed to issue a one-sentence statement before the start of trading:

The Federal Reserve, consistent with its responsibilities as the nation’s central bank, affirmed today its readiness to serve as a source of liquidity to support the economic and financial system.

When a decade of economic expansion in the 90s came to a close in March 2001, what followed was a short, shallow recession ending in November 2001. After the stock market bubble burst in in the early years of the decade, the Fed moved to lower interest rates rapidly.

The Fed used monetary policy during this time on several occasions – including the Russian default on government securities and the credit crunch of the early 90s – in order to keep financial problems from negatively affecting the real economy.

The hallmarks of the decade were (generally) declining inflation and the longest peacetime economic expansion in United States history.

September 11, 2001

As the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania severely disrupted U.S. financial markets on September 11, 2001, the effectiveness of the Federal Reserve as a central bank was truly put to the test.

The central bank issued a statement very similar to Greenspan’s 1987 announcement:

The Federal Reserve System is open and operating. The discount window is available to meet liquidity needs.

In the following days and weeks, the Fed lowered interest rates and, in order to provide some semblance of stability to the U.S. economy, loaned more than $45 billion to financial institutions.

In rare form, the Fed actually played a critical role in lessening the impact of the September 11 attacks on the American financial markets. As September came to a close, Fed lending had returned to levels seen before 9/11, and a potential liquidity crunch had been successfully avoided. The Fed played the pivotal role in dampening the effects of the September 11 attacks on U.S. financial markets.

Score one for the Fed!

January 2003: Changes in Discount Window Operation

The Federal Reserve changed its discount window operations in 2003 in order to have rates at the window set above the prevailing Fed Funds rate, and to provide rationing of loans to banks through interest rates.

2006 and Beyond: Our Current Financial Crisis and the Response

The American Dream of homeownership was realistically attainable for many more people during the early 2000s, thanks to low mortgage rates and expanded access to credit.

This increased demand for housing drove up prices, creating a housing boom that got a boost from increased securitization of mortgages—a process in which mortgages were bundled together into securities that were traded in financial markets. Securitization of riskier mortgages expanded rapidly, including subprime mortgages made to borrowers with poor credit records.

House prices faltered in early 2006 and then began their steep tumble downward, head over feet, along with home sales and construction. With house prices falling left and right, some homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their homes were even worth.

Starting with subprime and eventually spreading to prime mortgages, more and more homeowners fell behind on their payments. Delinquencies were on the rise, and lenders and investors alike finally got the wake up call that a lot of residential mortgages were not nearly as safe as everyone once believed.

The mortgage meltdown surged on, and the magnitude of expected losses rose dramatically and spread across the globe, thanks to millions of U.S. mortgages being repackaged as securities. This made it difficult to determine the value of loans and mortgage-related securities, and institutions became more and more hesitant to lend to each other.

2007-2008: Lehman and Washington Mutual Fail

The situation reached a fever-pitch crisis point in 2007. Fears about the financial health of other firms led to massive disruptions in the wholesale bank lending market, which caused rates on short-term loans to rise sharply relative to the overnight federal funds rate.

Then, in the fall of 2008, two large financial institutions failed: the investment bank Lehman Brothers and the savings and loan Washington Mutual. Since major financial institutions were extensively intertwined with each other, the failure of one could mean a domino effect of losses through the financial system, threatening many other institutions.

Needless to say, everyone completely lost confidence in the financial sector, and the stock prices of financial institutions around the world plummeted. No one wanted anything to do with them. Banks couldn’t sell loans to investors because securitization markets had stopped working, so banks and investors tightened standards and demanded higher interest rates.

This credit crunch dealt a huge blow to household wealth, and people started cutting back on spending as they wondered what the hell they were going to do about their depleted savings. The snowballing continued as businesses canceled expansion plans and laid off workers, and the economy entered a recession in December 2007. In reality, the recession was pretty mild until the fall of 2008 hit and financial panic intensified, causing job losses to soar through the roof.

2008: The Fed’s Response to the Economic Crisis

By December of 2008, the FOMC slashed its target for the federal funds rate over the course of more than a year, bringing it nearly to zero – the lowest level for federal funds in over 50 years. This helped lower the cost of borrowing for households and businesses alike on mortgages and other loans.

The Fed wanted to stimulate the economy and lower borrowing costs even further, so they turned to some pretty unconventional policy tools.

The Fed purchased $300 billion in longer-term Treasury securities, which are used as benchmarks for a variety of longer-term interest rates like corporate bonds and fixed-rate mortgages. In an effort to support the housing market, the Fed authorized the purchase of $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by agencies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and about $175 billion of mortgage agency longer-term debt.

So, what does that mean exactly?

Well, these purchases by the Fed have worked to reduce interest rates on mortgages, making home purchases more affordable for everyday Americans.

16 Money Fun Facts – Did You Know?

1. The Constitution only authorized the federal government to issue coins, not paper money.

Article One of the Constitution granted the federal government the sole power “to coin money” and “regulate the value thereof.” However, it said nothing about paper money.

This was largely because the founding fathers had seen the bills issued by the Continental Congress to finance the American Revolution—called “continentals”—become virtually worthless by the end of the war.

The implosion of the continental eroded faith in paper currency to such an extent that the Constitutional Convention delegates decided to remain silent on the issue.

2. Prior to the Civil War, banks printed paper money.

For America’s first 70 years, private entities, and not the federal government, issued paper money. Notes printed by state-chartered banks, which could be exchanged for gold and silver, were the most common form of paper currency in circulation.

From the founding of the United States to the passage of the National Banking Act, some 8,000 different entities issued currency, which created an unwieldy money supply and facilitated rampant counterfeiting.

By establishing a single national currency, the National Banking Act eliminated the overwhelming variety of paper money circulating throughout the country and created a system of banks chartered by the federal government rather than by the states. The law also assisted the federal government in financing the Civil War.

3. Foreign coins were once acceptable legal tender in the United States.

Before gold and silver were discovered in the West in the mid-1800s, the United States lacked a sufficient quantity of precious metals for minting coins. Thus, a 1793 law permitted Spanish dollars and other foreign coins to be part of the American monetary system. Foreign coins were not banned as legal tender until 1857.

4. The highest-denomination note ever printed was worth $100,000.

The largest bill ever produced by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 gold certificate. The currency notes were printed between December 18, 1934, and January 9, 1935, with the portrait of President Woodrow Wilson on the front.

Don’t ask your bank teller for a $100,000 bill, though. The notes were never circulated to the public and were used solely for transactions among Federal Reserve banks. the 100,000 bill, printed between 1934 and 1935

The $100,000 bill, printed between 1934 and 1935.
Source: Wikipedia.org

5. You won’t find a president on the highest-denomination bill ever issued to the public.

The $10,000 bill is the highest denomination ever circulated by the federal government. In spite of its value, it is adorned not with a portrait of a president but with that of Salmon P. Chase, treasury secretary at the time of the passage of the National Banking Act.

Chase later served as chief justice of the Supreme Court. The federal government stopped producing the $10,000 bill in 1969 along with these other high-end denominations: $5,000 (fronted by James Madison), $1,000 (fronted by Grover Cleveland) and $500 (fronted by William McKinley). (Although rare to find in your wallet, $2 bills are still printed periodically.)

Confederate currency featuring George Washington.
Source: Wikipedia.org

6. Two American presidents appeared on Confederate dollars.

The Confederacy issued paper money worth approximately $1 billion during the Civil War—more than twice the amount circulated by the United States.

While it’s not surprising that Confederate President Jefferson Davis and depictions of slaves at work in fields appeared on some dollar bills, so too did two Southern slaveholding presidents whom Confederates claimed as their own: George Washington (on a $50 and $100 bill) and Andrew Jackson (on a $1,000 bill).

Source: Wikipedia.org

7. Your house may have been built with old money. Literally.

When dollar bills are taken out of circulation or become worn, they are shredded by Federal Reserve banks. In some cases, the federal government has sold the shredded currency to companies that can recycle it and use it for the production of building materials such as roofing shingles or insulation.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing also sells small souvenir bags of shredded currency that was destroyed during the printing process… If you’re into that sort of thing.

8. The $10 bill has the shortest lifespan of any denomination.

According to the Federal Reserve, the estimated lifespan of a $10 bill is 3.6 years.

The estimated life spans of a $5 and $1 bill are 3.8 years and 4.8 years, respectively.

The highest estimated lifespan is for a $100 bill at nearly 18 years.

9. There’s a specific formula for tearing a dollar bill.

According to the federal government, it takes approximately 4,000 double folds (forward, then backward) to tear a note.

10. You can use a torn dollar bill.

More than half of a dollar bill is considered legal tender, and only the front of a dollar is valuable. If you could separate the front of a bill from the back, only the front half would be considered “money.”

11. Spanish dollars were once accepted in the U.S.

During much of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Spanish Dollar coin served as the unofficial national currency of the American colonies.

12. Without coins, the dollar had to be literally cut into parts to make change.

To make change the dollar was actually cut into eight pieces or “bits.” This where the phrase “two bits”  comes from.

13. In God We Trust.

These words had first appeared on the United States two-cent coin piece in 1864, and in 1955 a law was passed that all new designs for coin and currency would bear the same inscription, “In God We Trust.”

14. The dollar used to be bigger.

Until 1929, dollars measured 7.42 x 3.13 inches. Since then it has remained at its present size of 6.14 x 2.61 inches, an easier size to handle and store.

Since that size requires less paper, it’s also cheaper to make.

15. The Secret Service was initially established to combat counterfeiting.

By 1865 approximately one-third of all circulating currency was counterfeit, and the Department of Treasury established the United States Secret Service in an effort to control counterfeiting.

16. Until 1869, the face on the original United States $1 bill is not a president’s.

Salmon P. Chase designed the original US one dollar bill in 1862, and, in what should’ve been the most foolproof marketing strategy of all time, put his own face on the bill in the hopes of fulfilling his presidential dreams. Clearly that didn’t work out so great, but hey, he got Chase National Bank named after him.

Source: Wikipedia.org

À tout à l’heure,

Genevieve LeFranc
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. Now you have an idea of just how mind-boggling our country’s monetary system can be, and how it got that way. But to help you make the necessary connections between the creation of paper money and your wealth, be sure to sign up for The Daily Reckoning today. It’s a free and entertaining look at the world of finance and politics. The articles you find here on our site are only a snippet of what you receive in our email edition. It’s 100% free, click here now to sign up for FREE to see what you’re missing.

The post A Timeline of United States Currency appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

Ditch These 3 Terrible IPOs

The Daily Reckoning - 13 May 2015 - 1:54am

This post Ditch These 3 Terrible IPOs appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Hey, wanna lose some money? Then go chasing after the next hot IPO.

We’ve seen it time and time again. Everyone gets sucked in by the media hype surrounding the next big IPO. Then the stock fizzles once the hype machine breaks down. And the gullible suckers who bought are left holding the bag. The stock might come back after it bottoms out. Maybe. But it can be a long march back…

Today you’ll see three recent IPOs that went bad. They’re Exhibits A, B and C for why you should avoid investing in most IPOs when they first begin trading. They hit the ground running like so many of these things do—but stumbled once the hype faded.

It bothers me that so many investors fall for the IPO hype. Chasing initial public offerings becomes a spectator sport in a strong bull market and every financial journalist in the biz covers the first few days of a new stock’s public life. Then they forget about them until that first big earnings miss. By that point most folks are already in the hole.

And IPOs are often just ways for weak businesses to make a fast buck. Social media stocks are attracting investors’ attention? Great! Time for every half-ass business that can claim social network status to line up for an initial public offering. You know the deal.

So here are some recent IPOs that probably should have thought twice before jumping into public life…

1. The Container Store Group (NYSE:TCS)
Public since Oct. 2013
Performance since IPO: -55%

The Container Store is a slob’s nightmare. It is literally a store that sells containers, bins and boxes to organize all your junk. If you’re having a boring Saturday afternoon and want to make it worse, take a drive to The Container Store.

Its stock got off to a hot start right out of the gate but almost immediately disappointed when it released its first quarterly report. It was all downhill from there…

Last fall the Wall Street Journal had this to say about the stock’s 25% drop after it lowered sales forecasts once again: “The company said fewer people are walking into its stores despite discounts and a new loyalty program intended to lure shoppers. Meanwhile, a surge of business from new store openings hasn’t been substantial enough to offset two consecutive quarters of declining sales at existing stores.”

I guess consumers value their sanity more than organizing their messy attics.

2. Etsy Inc. (NASDAQ:ETSY)
Public since April 2015
Performance since IPO: +28%

Yes, Etsy is technically higher than its official IPO price. But if you bought the stock the first day it traded you’re down a cool 32% right now. Party!

Etsy is kind of an Amazon of cottage-industry arts and crafts. Users sell clothes, artwork, pottery, and other knick-knacks. But its business model hasn’t impressed investors so far…

Etsy stock took a big hit Monday after catching an analyst downgrade. MarketWatch reports that the company might have to deal with scrutiny over seller practices, including the “potential sale of counterfeit goods… as many as two million items on Etsy, or around 5% of all merchandise, may potentially be either counterfeit or constitute trademark or copyright infringement.”

Whoops. Let’s just say counterfeit goods aren’t exactly good for business…

3. Amedica Corp. (NASDAQ:AMDA)
Public since Feb. 2014
Performance since IPO: -96%

Behold! Here’s one of the worst performing IPOs you’ll ever lay eyes upon.

Amedica is a biotech/medical device company. You’d think it would have grabbed some buyers during the current biotech boom. But it didn’t. That’s a huge red flag (as if a stock that only goes down for more than a year isn’t a big enough red flag for you).


Greg Guenthner

for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. Don’t fall for the IPO hype. If you want to cash in on the biggest profits this market has to offer, sign up for my Rude Awakening e-letter, for FREE, right here. Stop missing out. Click here now to sign up for FREE.

The post Ditch These 3 Terrible IPOs appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Greece Writes a Check To The IMF -- Drawn on the IMF

The Market Ticker - 13 May 2015 - 12:51am

This is amusing.

Greece had a 750 million Euro payment due to the IMF today.  They "made" it by writing a check to the IMF funded by "SDR" funds held at..... the IMF!

Participating nations deposit money in the IMF's SDR fund to be aggregated so the IMF can make loans.  What Greece effectively did was "take back" their IMF SDR deposit in order to pay the IMF.

If you take from this that they took $20 out of one pocket and put it in the other, and by doing so claimed to have "paid" the $20, you're right.  Yes, we're into the realm of the insane my friends....

This sort of crap is the same thing that governments do all the time when they spend in deficit and give the money out in social programs; they "claim" that the funds "help".......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

The Market Ticker - Verizon + AOL? ROFL!

The Market Ticker - 13 May 2015 - 12:14am

America Online still exists?

This "combination" is utterly amusing.  The idea that now the market will "consolidate" ad platforms and this somehow will "add value is amusing beyond words.  So is the premise of "monetizing" mobile platforms in particular, and the premise of playing the "direct delivery, individualized content" game.

Come talk with me about this when firms like Netflix pay for all of their own transport instead of forcing their operating costs on other people, including through government agitation -- costs that are large enough to render their business model uneconomic were they not to engage in their current tactics.

I'll be waiting.......

(Click link to read more)

Categories: Economics

Framespotting: Book review

Energy Bulletin - 12 May 2015 - 11:07pm

What do climate change, sports teams and your family’s achievements have in common?

Categories: Peak oil news

The Other Side of the Coin

Energy Bulletin - 12 May 2015 - 11:07pm

In a deprived district of the small Belgian city of Ghent, the local Toreke coin reveals how big the transformative impact of alternative currency systems can be.

Categories: Peak oil news

How Solar Can Help Nepal's Relief Efforts

Energy Bulletin - 12 May 2015 - 11:07pm

Following the earthquake, Gham Power provided lights and mobile charging stations for relief workers and the displaced.

Categories: Peak oil news
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